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San dgrou s e 

VOLUME 37(1) 2015 




OSME 


ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF THE MIDDLE EAST 
THE CAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA 











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THE CAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA 

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Sandgrouse volume 37 (I) 2015 


2 Birds of Wadi Sayq, Dhofar, Oman: British Exploring Society 
expeditions January-March 2012 and 2013. Lawrence Ball, 

Waheed Al Fazari & James Borrell 

13 Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus, first breeding in Kuwait and the 
Arabian peninsula. Khaled Al-Ghanem & AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan 

16 Plumage and wing biometrics of the juvenile Cyprus Warbler 
Sylvia melanothorax in its Cypriot breeding grounds. Clive Walton 

22 First evidence of colonization by Common Myna Acridotheres tristis 
in Jordan, 2013-2014. Fares Khoury & Mohammed Alshamlih 

25 Two overlooked specimens of Slender-billed Curlew Numenius 
tenuirostris from Turkey. Andrea Corso, Justin JFJ Jansen & 

Guy M Kirwan 

26 First record of a drongo Dicrurus in Arabia. PWP Browne 

28 An annotated checklist of the birds of Turkmenistan. 

Eldar A Rustamov 

57 The first Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fasca for Oman and the 
Middle East. Peter Olsson 

60 Migrating and wintering birds feeding on berries of Arabian 

Boxthorn Lycium shawii bushes in Kuwait. AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan 

71 Artificial waterbodies in Sarakhs county: important stopover 
sites for migratory waterbirds in northeastern Iran. Ali Khani, 

Elham Nourani, Anooshe Kafash, Sayyad Shaykhi Ilanloo, Javad Alipour & 
Masoud Yousefi 

79 Proving the occurrence of Common Swift Apus apus pekinensis in 
the United Arab Emirates. Huw Roberts & Oscar Campbell 

87 Common Myna Acridotheres tristis, a new invasive species 

breeding in Sinai, Egypt. Basem Rabia, Mindy Baha El Din|, Lina Rifai & 
Omar Attum 

90 A white Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii (Jacquin, 1784) in 
Saudi Arabia. M Zafar-ul Islam, Ahmed Boug & Hein van Grouw 

94 Singing Willow Tits Poecile montanus : Sino-Japanese song type 

recorded in the southern and western Altai, Kazakhstan, June-July 
2013. Thijs Peter Mathias Fijen 

97 Photospot: Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus a. aegyptius. 

Jem Babbington 


102 From the Rarities 

Committees. Ian Harrison 
(compiler) 

108 Obituary: Michael Desmond 
Gallagher. 

Ill Obituary: Phil Hollom. 

113 News & Information. 

Dawn Balmer (compiler) 

115 Around the Region. 

Ian Harrison & Chris Lamsdell 
(compilers) 

Photo above: Purple 
Swamphen Porphyrio 
porphyrio, Sabkhat Al Fasl, 
Jubail, Saudi Arabia, 24 May 
2014. © Jem Babbington 

Cover photo: Egyptian 
Nightjar Caprimulgus 
a. aegyptius, Sabkhat Ai 
Fasl, Jubail, Saudi Arabia, 

22 August 2014. © Jem 
Babbington 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


1 






Birds of Wadi Sayq, Dhofar, Oman: 

British Exploring Society expeditions 
January-March 2012 and 2013 

LAWRENCE BALL, WAHEED AL FAZARI & JAMES BORRELL 

The first thorough biological assessment of the Dhofar region was conducted in 1977/1978 
by the Oman Flora & Fauna Survey and published as a special report in Journal of Oman 
Studies (Shaw Reade et al 1980). Since then the wildlife of Oman has become comparatively 
well known, with the bird fauna particularly well recorded and reported (Eriksen & 
Victor 2013). In contrast Wadi Sayq, in southernmost Dhofar close to the Yemen border, has 
received comparatively little scientific attention. Shaw Reade et al (1980) reported a number 
of new bird species records for Arabia in this area although the survey was limited to just 
three days. Since then. Wadi Sayq had not been assessed by a dedicated expedition. The 
British Exploring Society (www.britishexploring.org) led two expeditions, 2012 and 2013, 
to the area (Borrell & Ball 2012, Ball et al 2013), undertaking detailed surveys of a number 
of taxonomic groups including insects (Ball 2014), amphibians, reptiles, mammals and 
birds. Wadi Sayq is considered one of the greenest valleys in the Dhofar mountains and is 
comparatively less affected by human disturbance due to remoteness and inaccessibility 
than adjacent areas (Annette Patzelt & Hadi Hikmani pers comm February 2012). 

Wadi Sayq is unusual in that it runs west-east, before finally turning south to meet 
the sea (Figure 1). From June-September this area is strongly influenced by the summer 
monsoon (Khareef), during which low cloud and mist form against the south-facing 





2012 Survey Locations 

2013 Survey Locations 


Figure I. Wadi Sayq and surrounding area, with survey locations from 2012 and 2013 identified. Inset map shows 
location of Wadi Sayq in the far south of Dhofar, Sultanate of Oman. 


2 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 








mountain slopes, depositing moisture and providing an interesting spatio-temporal 
combination of habitats within its catchment area. On each side the wadi rises steeply, 
to the south reaching c400 m asl and to the north almost 1000 m asl. Woody vegetation 
predominates on these slopes and gullies, consisting largely of Acacia and Boswellia species. 
Grasses and scrub cover the flatter environments of the valley shoulders and the gravel 
plains of the estuary are dominated by reeds, grasses and stands of Phoenix dactylifera 
palms. For a full description of wadi vegetation in southern Dhofar see Mosti et al (2012). A 
small number of permanent and temporary water sources, natural and man-made, occur 
in the wadi. Evidence of overgrazing from cattle and camels can be identified throughout 
much of the area. High levels of biodiversity across many different taxonomic groups 
were recorded by the expeditions, including the presence of the critically endangered 
Arabian Leopard Panthera pardus nimr and regionally endangered Arabian subspecies of 
Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena sultana and Grey Wolf Canis lupus arabs. Here we report the 
abundance and diversity of bird species recorded in Wadi Sayq and assess the potential 
for conservation management of the area. 

METHODS 

The expedition undertook fieldwork in Wadi Sayq (16° 43' N, 53° 20' E) during the dry 
winter months of January-March for a period of 30 days in 2012 and 29 days in 2013. 
Team members, equipment and supplies sufficient for the duration of the expedition were 
transported in by small fishing boats from the nearby village of Rakhyut, and landed 
on the beach at the mouth of Wadi Sayq, known locally as Khor Kharfot. Base camp 
was situated here on the flat gravel plain. The approximate survey area encompassed 
much of the Wadi Sayq catchment area (Figure 2), although this was constrained by the 
challenging terrain and difficulty in accessing many of the steeper tributaries. However 
every effort was made to adequately survey locations along the length of the wadi, to gain 
even coverage and an accurate representation of the habitats and species present. The 
distribution of survey points for both years in Wadi Sayq is shown in Figure 1. 

Stationary point count survey methods were employed for several reasons. Firstly, 
the dense vegetation and rocky terrain meant moving through the wadi system was 
very difficult. Secondly, birds were often focused around specific features like water 
bodies or fruiting trees, and thus a prolonged survey time at these sites was favourable. 
Additionally, wildlife can take some time to re-emerge after being disturbed in the dense 
vegetation on the wadi sides and so a stationary survey method was most appropriate to 
record these individuals. Surveys were conducted by between three and nine observers 
of varying experience and proficiency from both the UK and Oman. However, all surveys 
were led by one of the authors of this study. The survey locations were marked by GPS and 
survey start and finish time recorded. The majority of surveys were one hour in length. 
Numbers of birds were recorded, with care taken to minimise repeat counts of the same 
individual(s) during the same survey. Care was also taken to accurately identify species. 
We ensured that birds were positively identified by at least two observers. Where this 
was not possible and we were unable to take a diagnostic photograph the observation was 
noted as unconfirmed. In addition to the formal surveys, incidental observations were 
also recorded. The same criteria for positively identifying species were used throughout. 
It should be noted that for some species, the same individual(s) may have been recorded 
in separate surveys, zones, or indeed in both years. Basemap imagery for the region was 
obtained and map generation conducted in ArcGIS Desktop vlO.l (Environmental Systems 
Research Institute ESRI, World Imagery basemap and the GIS User Community). 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


3 


Table I. Species recorded in Wadi Sayq over the course of both expeditions, 2012 and 2013. Arid upper reach¬ 
es (AUK), Grassland plateaus (GP), Monsoon woodland (MW), Freshwater pools (FP), Estuarine pools (EP), 
Freshwater marsh (FM), Saline lagoons (SL), Beach (B). VU vulnerable, NT Near Threatened (IUCN status). 
Species richness is defined as the number of species observed. The percentage of the total is given in brackets. 

'Unconfirmed observations, incidental observation. 


Species 

Zone 


AUR 

GP 

MW 

WB 

FP 

EP 

FM 

SL 

B 

Total 

Arabian Partridge Alectoris 
melanocephala 

2 

6 

12 

15 






35 

Northern Pintail Anas acuta 







6 



6 

Eurasian Teal Anas crecca 







1 



1 

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula 






3 




3 

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus 
roseus 







12 

1 1 


23 

Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus 





1 





1 

Black-crowned Night Heron 
Nycticorax nycticorax 






1 




1 

Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 2 







1 



1 

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 





1 

5 

16 

9 

1 

32 

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea 







2 



2 

Great Egret Ardea alba 







3 

4 


7 

Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia 

2 







1 



1 

Little Egret Egretta garzetta 







i r 

2 

1 

14 

Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis 






1 

2 

8 

9 

20 

Brown Booby Sula leucogaster 2 









1 

1 

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax 
car bo 







i 

5 

3 

9 

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus 







2 

1 

4 

7 

Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus 
gallicus 


1 

4 

3 

2 

2 



2 

14 

Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga 
VU 


1 

2 

2 

5 


1 

2 


13 

Booted Eagle Aquila pennata 




3 

1 


1 



5 

Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis 







2 


1 

3 

Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca 
VU 

1 

5 

5 

7 

2 

2 



1 

23 

Verreaux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii 


9 

3 

35 

2 

A 


4 


1 

- 

Bonelli’s Eagle Aquila fasciata 


1 

7 

3 


4 

1 



16 

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus 


2 





1 



3 

Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus 




1 



1 



2 

Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus NT 




1 






1 

Black Kite Milvus migrans 




3 






3 

Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus 


2 


7 


2 


1 


12 

Steppe buzzard Buteo buteo vulpinus 




2 

2 





4 

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 


18 

6 

21 

3 

4 

7 





4 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 



































































Species 

Zone 



AUR 

GP 

MW 

WB 

FP 

EP 

FM 

SL 

B 

Total 

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus 2 









1 

1 

White-breasted Waterhen 

Amaurornis phoenicurus 






5 




5 

Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla 2 







1 



1 

Common Moorhen Gallinula 
chloropus 





2 

7 

4 

6 


19 

Kentish Plover Charadrius 
alexandrinus 








14 

15 

29 

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 1 






1 




1 

Common Greenshank Tringa 
nebularia 







3 

7 

9 

19 

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola 2 








1 


1 

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 






4 

1 1 

18 

9 

42 

Sanderling Calidris alba 1 









5 

5 

Little Stint Calidris minuta 









5 

5 

Pallas’s Gull Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus 






1 




1 

Sooty Gull Ichthyaetus hemprichii 







5 


1 

6 

Common Gull Larus canus 1 









1 

1 

Heuglin’s Gull Larus heuglini 









8 

8 

Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus 
bengalensis 







8 



8 

Sandwich Tern Thalasseus 
sandvicensis 








1 


1 

Common Tern Sterna hirundo 1 









60 

60 

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida 1 









2 

2 

White-winged Tern Chlidonias 
leucopterus 







24 

3 

9 

36 

Rock Dove Columba livia 


96 

47 

107 

707 

150 

374 

47 

1 

1529 

European Turtle Dove Streptopelia 
turtur 




2 






2 

Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia 
decaocto 1 



1 







1 

Laughing Dove Spilopelia senegalensis 


13 

16 

4S3 

2 

45 

23 



552 

Bruce’s Green Pigeon Treron waalia 



1 

16 

38 

6 




61 

Arabian Spotted Eagle-Owl Bubo 
africanus milesi 2 



1 







1 

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis 







5 

1 


6 

Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis 




2 






2 

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops 




2 


1 




3 

Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra 
senegala 


1 

1 

7 






9 

Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus 


1 




2 

2 

2 


7 

Southern Grey Shrike Lanius 
meridionalis aucheri 1 




3 






3 

African Paradise Flycatcher 
Terpsiphone viridis 

1 

6 

10 

57 

23 

8 

7 



112 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


b 














































































Species 

Zone 








AUR GP 

MW WB FP 

EP 

FM 

SL 

B 

Total 


Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis 


Fan-tailed Raven Corvus rhipidurus 


Singing Bush Lark Mirafra cantillans 

Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark 
Eremopterix nigriceps 


White-spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus 
xanthopygos 


Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 


Pale Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne 
obsoleta 

Streaked Scrub Warbler Scotocerca 
(inquieta ) inquieta 


8 


8 


10 



Unidentified Warbler Sylviidae sp 


31 


44 


Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus 


Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus 
collyblta 


10 


Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus 
arundinaceus 


Clamorous Reed Warbler 
Acrocephalus stentoreus 1 


Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis 


Arabian Warbler Sylvia leucomelaena 


Abyssinian White-eye Zosterops 
abyssinicus 


Tristram’s Starling Onychognathus 
tristramii 


40 




Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin 
Cercotrichas galactotes 


Bluethroat Luscinia svecica 


10 


Semicollared Flycatcher Ficedula 
semitorquata NT 


Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius 


Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti 


8 


Blackstart Oenanthe melanura 


12 


38 


29 



Arabian Wheatear Oenanthe 
lugentoides 


Palestine Sunbird Cinnyris osea 


27 


Shining Sunbird Cinnyris habessinicus 


19 


v" . 

_ 


17 


13 


Ruppell’s Weaver Ploceus galbula 


62 


28 


African Silverbill Euodice cantons 


34 


15 


Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla 
flava 


13 


Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola 


19 


25 


Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 


White Wagtail Motacilla alba 


13 


Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris 


6 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 

















































































































Species 


Long-billed Pipit Anthus similis 


Zone 

AUR GP MW WB FP EP FM SL 


Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis 


Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak 
Rhynchostruthus percivali NT 


Striolated Bunting Emberiza striolata 


Cinnamon-breasted Bunting 
Emberiza tahapisi 


Number of individuals recorded 
Species Richness (%) 




13 


74 609 760 3160 1278 904 760 198 


Total 


25 


7944 


10 30 27 49 30 44 52 28 28 102 

(9.8) (29.4) (26.5) (48.0) (29.4) (43.1) (51.0) (27.5) (27.5) (|00) 



Figure 2. Map of Wadi Sayq distinguishing different habitat zones and their distribution across the wadi landscape. 
Arid upper reaches (AUR), Grassland plateaus (GP), Monsoon woodland (MW), Freshwater pools (FP), Estuarine 
pools (EP), Freshwater marsh (FM), Saline lagoons (SL), Beach (B). 

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 

In total, 94 species were recorded within Wadi Sayq (Table 1), of these, seven resulted 
from incidental observations. A further eight may be considered unconfirmed as we were 
unable to obtain a diagnostic photograph, bringing the overall total to 102 species. Point 
surveys were conducted at 105 locations over two years (33 locations in 2012, 72 locations 
in 2013). Total survey time was 152 hours. Based on our exploration of Wadi Sayq and for 
the purposes of later discussion the survey area was divided into nine habitat zones. These 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


7 



































Plate I. Arid upper reaches (AUR) looking north 
showing part of the road that crosses the upper reaches 
of Wadi Sayq. © James Borrell 



Plate 3. Monsoon woodland (MW) covering steep 
slopes in a central portion of Wadi Sayq. © Lawrence Ball 



Plate 2. Grassland plateaus (GP) to the south of Wadi 
Sayq. © Lawrence Ball 



Plate 4. Wadi bottom and forest edge (WB) habitat in 
Wadi Sayq, consisting of large rocks and boulders with 
vegetation encroaching in places. © James Borrell 


zones differed in habitat type, elevation and distance from the wadi mouth and their 
location is shown in Figure 2. Plates 1-9 illustrate these zones. Descriptions of the wadi 
habitats are given below with some notes on species of interest. 

Arid upper reaches (AUR). The uppermost region of the wadi was surveyed at an 
elevation of c400 m asl. It is characterised by the meeting of the main wadi bed with part 
of a newly constructed road network (Plate 1). Although mostly arid, this area does contain 
a localised freshwater source creating a series of pools for clOO m with accompanying 
vegetation. The levels in these pools fluctuated every few days and occasionally dried up 
completely. The extent of this water source thus appears to be erratic, but nevertheless is of 
importance. The wadi bed is comparatively wide and the gradient of surrounding slopes 
is shallow in this area. - ' 

Grassland plateaus (GP). At higher elevations above the steep wadi sides the slope 
becomes much shallower and the vegetation structure more open (Plate 2). This habitat 
occupies the higher ground between the tributary valleys entering the main wadi from 
the north. Notable in this zone was the observation of a pair of Streaked Scrub Warblers 
Scotocerca inquiet a, and a pair of Singing Bush Larks Mirafra cantillans. These species were 
not observed elsewhere in the wadi. 


8 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 
























Plate 5. Freshwater pools (FP), Wadi Sayq, this Plate 6. Estuarine plain (EP), Wadi Sayq, looking north, 
photograph shows the largest of these. © James Borrell © Lawrence Ball 


Monsoon woodland (MW). Occupying steep and largely inaccessible limestone cliffs and 
valley sides, dense seasonal cloud forest is extensive throughout the lower parts of Wadi 
Sayq (Plate 3). Considering the scarcity of this habitat type in Dhofar and the Middle East 
as a whole, the extent in Wadi Sayq should be considered important. A notable observation 
was an Arabian Spotted Eagle-Owl Bubo africanus milesi. The difficulty in surveying 
this dense habitat means that many smaller species are likely underrepresented in our 
observations. 

Wadi bottom and forest edge (WB). The Khareef results in large volumes of water passing 
through Wadi Sayq. As such there is very little vegetation in the valley bottom, and a 
reasonably well defined forest edge at the high water mark forming a boundary with zone 
MW (Plate 4). The wadi bed consists of boulders of all sizes, undercut caves and overhangs, 
gravel troughs and in some places small sand banks. Midway along the wadi is a semi¬ 
permanent artificial water source (80 m asl), consisting of a concrete trough supplied 
by a pipe from a village on the southern side of the wadi. This water source attracted 
many birds. In addition there is one further temporary pool which appears to persist for 
several months into the dry season on account of it being relatively deep and shaded. It 
also attracted a considerable abundance of wildlife. The highest bird abundance and high 
species richness were observed in this zone. We describe the last kilometre of the wadi 
bottom as it approaches the coast in greater detail in the zones below. 

Freshwater pools (FP). Several large freshwater pools occur in the lower reaches of the 
wadi, cl km from the coast (Plate 5). These likely emanate from an underground spring 
and represent the largest source of fresh water in the wadi. Reports from local people 
and our advance party in 2011 suggest they persist reliably year round although the 
water levels appear to fluctuate. Some relatively large trees were able to survive in this 
area including wild tamarind Tamarindus indica and fruiting fig Ficus. The firm ground 
makes this location highly suitable for cattle to drink, with the resident herd observed to 
visit this area regularly. Thus only very small stands of vegetation were able to persist in 
the deepest and most inaccessible areas. The latter areas were found to show relatively 
low species diversity but common species such as White-spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus 
xanthopygos, Abyssinian White-eye Zosterops abyssinicus and Laughing Dove Spilopelia 
senegalensis were highly abundant, feeding on the fruiting fig trees. Raptors were seen to 
alight on the edge of the pools to drink or bathe (not observed at any of the other water 
sources in the wadi). 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


9 











Plate 7. Freshwater marsh (FM) habitat, Wadi Sayq, 
showing prolific grazing by resident cattle. © Lawrence 
Ball 



Plate 8. Saline lagoons (SL), Wadi Sayq, with 
Phoenicopterus roseus and some expedition members. © 
Lawrence Ball 



Estuarine plain (EP). A large, mostly 
unvegetated gravel plain east of the 
freshwater pools; likely entirely submerged 
during the Khareef (Plate 6). Many of the 
species observed here would normally be 
associated with the marsh or lagoon habitat 
nearer the sea, however the ease of view 
and comparatively concealed marsh habitat, 
meant they were observed here. In patches 
of shrub habitat regular observations were 
made of Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak 
Rhynchostruthus percivali, however no more 
than four individuals were ever observed 
on a single occasion. Riippell's Weaver 
Ploceus galbula was also common here. 

Freshwater marsh (FM). The freshwater 
marsh is fed by a perennial spring that 
originates from the eastern slope, and is 
smaller in extent than that of FP (Plate 
7). This creates a very narrow channel of 
marshy habitat extending cl20 m towards the 
coast where it meets the saline lagoons (SF) 
and the habitat type alters. Reeds persisted 
throughout the marsh, but most were 
extremely short due to grazing pressure; 
a high abundance of insect prey was also 
identified through the multidisciplinary 
surveys. Considering the small extent of 

this habitat, and the extensive grazing and trampling damage, it is surprising that more 
than half of the species observed in the wadi were recorded here. Notable species included 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea and Baillon's Crake 
Porzana pusilla. A White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus was observed, and was 


Plate 9. Beach (B)—looking east across the mouth of 
Wadi Sayq. © James Borrell 


10 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 
























thought to be nesting amongst reeds. Even towards the end of the second expedition, new 
species for this study continued to be recorded here. 

Saline lagoons (SL). A pair of brackish lagoons occur behind the beach. These are shallow 
and regularly flooded during high tides, and also fed by fresh water from zone FM 
(Plate 8). Typha and Phragmites were present, but similarly short due to grazing pressure. 
Unsurprisingly, numerous coastal species were observed here. Single individuals of Wood 
Sandpiper Tringa glareola and Long-billed Pipit Anthus similis were also observed. 

Beach (B). The final zone where the wadi mouth meets the coast is known locally as 
Khor Kharfot, and is characterised by a beach cl.5 km in length flanked by cliffs along 
the back and to either side (Plate 9). An osprey nesting site was found in this area, and 
several raptor species were believed to have nest sites in the inaccessible cliffs. Due to the 
difficulty in approaching many of the birds in this zone, it is likely that the species here 
were under surveyed. 

A comparatively much higher level of diversity was observed at zones EP, FP, FM, SL 
and B than throughout the remainder of the wadi, 88 species compared to 56 species, 
respectively. This highlights the importance of the estuarine plain for diverse avifaunal 
communities during the dry winter months. Sixteen raptor species, three of which 
are listed in threatened categories by the IUCN, were recorded during this research, a 
substantial number in just a single wadi system. Its numerous tributaries, sheer cliffs, 
variety of habitats, vast size and low level of human disturbance enable these species to 
coexist either as breeding residents or overwintering individuals. Rock Hyrax Procavia 
capensis and Arabian Spiny Mouse Acomys dimidiatus constitute an abundant prey base 
(recorded through complementary surveys) as well as the numerous small passerine 
birds and partridge. Only 500 breeding pairs of the Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak 
Rhynchostruthus percivali are expected to be present in Oman (BirdLife International 2012). 
It is an Arabian endemic listed as near threatened experiencing population declines due to 
degradation of woodland habitat and now only occurs in small scattered populations (Fry 
& Keith 2004). Its occurrence within Wadi Sayq is therefore noteworthy. 

The data demonstrates that Wadi Sayq supports a rich diversity and abundance of 
avifauna, representing a considerable proportion of the species recorded from Oman 
(20%), although populations of many species appear to be small and localised. The data 
highlights the influence of water sources during the dry winter months, which appear 
to draw in large numbers of birds. It is also encouraging to note the secondary benefits 
afforded to wildlife by the artificial livestock water trough midway along the wadi bottom 
(WB). Here a large number of birds utilised this water source throughout the day with an 
average of 106 birds recorded per hour, peaking at dawn and dusk. Thus the presence of 
pastoralism results in both positive and negative impacts. Zones EP and FM are currently 
undergoing unsustainable degradation due to overgrazing from livestock, thus resulting 
in destruction of critically important habitats. We hypothesise that if livestock could be 
excluded from just the most sensitive habitats, then the positive effects on these sites 
would be seen within a year followed by increased avifaunal populations and richer 
communities. It should also be noted that a road development has been proposed along 
the coast, from Rakhyut to Dhalkut, across the wadi mouth at Khor Kharfot. This can be 
anticipated to result in significant disturbance, by increasing the accessibility to an area of 
high biological importance. This has rightly been opposed by the authorities, but may still 
pose a risk in the future. There are currently no conservation measures protecting Wadi 
Sayq, thus considering the value and importance of this site, we recommend that this be 
addressed as soon as possible. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 11 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

The authors wish to gratefully acknowledge the support of the British Exploring Society and the Office 
for Conservation of the Environment, Diwan of Royal Court, Oman in undertaking this study. Special 
thanks also go to the Anglo-Omani Society, Shell Development Oman LLC and the Sandy and Zorica Glen 
Charitable Settlement for their generous financial support. Furthermore, we thank Chris Sweetman for 
assistance in bird identification and Terry Fones, Soo Redshaw and Andrew Stokes-Rees for supporting 
field logistics. We thank all the members of the expeditions. 2012: Terry Fones (chief leader), Soo Redshaw 
(deputy chief leader), Tino Solomon (expedition doctor), Chris Sweetman (base camp manager), Callum 
Jones, Elliott Simpson, Emma Docherty, Faye Collis, George Hammerton, Giles Keun, James De Wolff, 
Kiran Govind, Leo Buscombe, Oliver Troen, Paul Lorimer, Stevan Ye. 2013: Soo Redshaw (chief leader), 
Ian Steptoe (deputy chief leader), Harriet Charles-Jones (expedition doctor), Ken Josey (adventure leader), 
Alasdair Robertson, Amy Bennett, Ashley Templeton, Ben Howlett, Ceres Barros, Constantin Kirwan- 
Taylor, Holly Winser, Howard Hartley, James Garry, James Hampson, Matt Lain, Michael Munson, Natalie 
Gilders, Rachael Lawler, Richard Goodacre, Sean Ketteringham, Sophie Drew and Toby Skailes. 

REFERENCES 

Ball L. 2014. An investigation of odonate communities within Wadi Sayq, Dhofar province, Oman (Insecta: 
Odonata). Checklist 10(4): 857-863. 

Ball L, J Garry, H Hikmani, A Robertson, C Barros, A Benett & J Rose. 2013. Observations in the Empty Quarter 
& A Rapid Biodiversity Assessment of Wadi Sayq, Dhofar. Report for the British Exploring Society, Oman 
Empty Quarter Expedition, UK. 

BirdLife International 2012. Rhynchostruthus percivali. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 
2014.2. www.iucnredlist.org. [Downloaded 14 September 2014] 

Borrell, J & L Ball. 2012. A Rapid Biodiversity Assessment of Wadi Sayq, Dhofar Province, Oman. Report for 
the British Exploring Society, Oman Empty Quarter Expedition, UK. 

Eriksen, J & R Victor. 2013. Oman Bird List (7th edn). Center for Environmental Studies and Research, Sultan 
Qaboos University, Muscat. 

Fry, CH & S Keith. 2004. The Birds of Africa, Vol 7. Christopher Helm, London. 

Mosti, S, M Raffaelli & M Tardelli. 2012. Contribution to the flora of central-southern Dhofar (Sultanate of 
Oman). Webbia 67(1): 65-91. 

Shaw Reade, SN, JB Sale, MD Gallagher & RH Daly (eds). 1980. The scientific results of the Oman flora and 
fauna survey 1977 (Dhofar). Journal of Oman Studies Special Report 2. 

Lawrence Ball, University of Exeter, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Penryn Campus, Treliever Road, Penryn, 
Cornwall TRIO 9FE, UK. lawrence.balll@gmx.com 

Waheed Al Fazari, PO Box 1295 Al-Khuwair, PC 133, Sultanate of Oman, waheed.alfazari@gmail.com 

James Borrell, Evolutionary Genetics group, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, 
UK. j.s.borrell@qmul.ac.uk 



12 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus, first breeding 
in Kuwait and the Arabian peninsula 

KHALED AL-GHANEM & ABDULRAHMAN AL-SIRHAN 

Two pairs of Hypocoliuses Hypocolius ampelinus nested at Jahra pools reserve, Kuwait, in 
2014 and raised five chicks. The Hypocolius has a restricted range and is the only member 
of its genus and of the Hypocoliidae. Kuwait is now the sixth country in which this species 
has bred; after Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan (Clements 2007). 

Jahra pools reserve is a coastal reserve with large pools of 3-stage-treated sewage 
water. Water levels are maintained year-round. There are extensive Phragmites australis 
reedbeds and Typha domingensis and part of the reserve is halophyte sabkha. The 
Hypocolius is a fruit eating species favouring date palms Phoenix dactylifera for their dry 
fruits, also feeding on the berries of Nitraria retusa and Lycium shawii. Most of the date 
palms along roads and in parks in Kuwait are left uncultivated during the summer, and 
in winter Hypocoliuses feed on the dates. The birds are usually found at sites where there 
are palm trees, such as parks, farms and home gardens. The Hypocolius is an uncommon 
passage migrant and winter visitor in Kuwait, but there are a number of sightings in mid 
summer. It was first suspected breeding in Kuwait when Rashed Al-Hajji photographed 
a juvenile at Jahra farms on 8 August 2012 (Plate 1). It was not accompanied by adults, so 
was regarded as a juvenile that had bred elsewhere perhaps in Iraq or Iran. 

In summer 2014 the species was watched in early June at Jahra pools reserve by 
many observers but on 30 June KAG, the manager of the reserve, noted a Hypocolius 
male feeding on its own under a Tamarix aphylla tree but things changed when a small 
bird appeared close to it (Plate 2). It looked initially like a female House Sparrow Passer 
domesticus but after careful observation it was in fact a Hypocolius fledgling. It had pale 




Plate I. J uvenile Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus at 
Jahra farms, Kuwait, 8 August 201 2. © Rashed Al-Hajji 


Plate 2. Fledgling Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus, Jahra 
pools reserve, Kuwait, 30 June 2014. © Khaled Al-Chanem 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


13 
















Plate 3. Juvenile Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus , Jahra pools reserve, Kuwait, I July 2014. © Khaled Al-Ghanem 



Plate 4. Adult male Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus on nest, Jahra pools reserve, Kuwait, 30 June 2014. © Khaled 
Al-Ghanem 


plumage and short tail; it then started to follow the adult and beg for food, fluttering its 
wings. The adult fed it with a red berry from nearby Nitraria retusa shrubs. Minutes later 
a juvenile joined and a female as well, the juvenile was larger than the fledgling with a 
grown tail and it flew well. The family of four then left to a Nitraria retusa bush and started 


14 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


























Plate 5. Male and female Hypocoliuses Hypocolius ampelinus feeding three chicks at Jahra pools reserve, 3 I July 2014. 
© Khaled Al-Ghanem 


to feed on its red berries. This plant continues to produce berries until October. The next 
day KAG was able to photograph the juvenile (Plate 3). The family was also noticed later 
flying on a number of occasions towards Jahra farms where they probably feed on dates. 

Also on 30 June 2014, KAG discovered another breeding pair when he noticed an adult 
male on a nest (Plate 4). The nest was c2.5 m above the ground and c3 cm deep, robustly 
built on a Tamarix aphylla tree firmly supported by the trunk and thick branches and lined 
with feathers and T. aphylla leaves, semi-shaded from the sun. Air temperatures during 
July reach 47°C. The nest was c50 m away from the reedbeds. During July both parents 
were alternately incubating; KAG did not know how many eggs were in the nest, but later 
they produced three chicks. While on the nest chicks were fed insects by both parents 
(Plate 5). The parents kept close to the nest protecting it from intruders. When an intruder 
bird comes close to the nest site an adult would go to the intruder and call at it until it left, 
it then would follow it until it was far away from the nest site. After leaving the nest the 
parents fed the fledglings with plant material, Nitraria retusa berries and insects. Later the 
juveniles and the two adults were noticed foraging in the reedbeds at the edge of a bank. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 

We would like to thank Rashed Al-Hajji for allowing us to use his photograph. 

REFERENCE 

Clements, JF. 2007. The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World. 6th edn. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 
NY. 

Khaled Al-Ghanem, Environment Protection Authority, Kuwait, khaledmfmg@yahoo.com 
AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan, PO Box 49272, Omariya, Kuwait 85153. alsirhan@alsirhan.com 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 15 















Plumage and wing biometrics of the juvenile 
Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax in its 
Cypriot breeding grounds 

CLIVE WALTON 

An account of the juvenile plumage of Cyprus Warbler is presented with biometrics of wing and 
tail feathers, including from a DNA-tested individual. Wing morphology data from juveniles are 
compared to those previously published for fully grown birds with adult-type feathers. Relatively 
short primary flight feathers were found in the juveniles. Tonal variation of the upperparts of 
juvenile plumage is reported and it is suggested that it may be linked to sexual dimorphism or 
natural variation. 

INTRODUCTION 

The true juvenile plumages of some Sylvia species are remarkably similar (Shirihai et al 
2001). Consequently, it is not always obvious to which species individual juveniles should 
be assigned, in the field or in the hand, before post-juvenile (late first calendar year/first 
winter) plumage shows adult-type, sexually dimorphic feathers. This is compounded 
when morphologies and biometrics of congeners overlap. No photographs or illustrations 
of Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax in juvenile plumage are presented in Shirihai et al's 
(2001) seminal monograph on the genus. In some sources, illustrations of Cyprus Warbler 
in juvenile plumage appear to include some post-juvenile plumage characteristics (eg 
Cramp 1992). Such references that are available do not appear to account for the apparent 
tonal variation in plumage of the individual juvenile Cyprus Warblers observed in the 
current study. 

In many regions of Cyprus, Cyprus Warbler and Sardinian Warbler S. melanocephala 
are sympatric as a result of a recent rapid range expansion of the latter species (Flint & 
McArthur 2014). Breeding Spectacled Warblers S. conspicillata are also present, though are 
patchily distributed (pers obs). The increased sympatry of Cyprus and Sardinian Warblers 
appears to have important implications for the conservation status of Cyprus Warblers 
and for conservation management plans for associated habitats (Flint & McArthur 2014). 
These issues highlight the desirability of increased awareness of juvenile, plumage of the 
Cyprus Warbler. 

For the purposes of the present study the term juvenile plumage is confined to 
its strictest sense ie Euring/BTO age code 3J and moult code J, abbreviated here to 3JJ. 
Ornithologists sometimes use the term 'juvenile' more loosely, as a convenient shorthand 
for passerines'which are either sub-adult with sub-adult plumage or which have evidence 
of retained juvenile plumage irrespective of calendar age before full adult plumage is 
attained. However, the use of the term when unqualified can be misleading as 'juvenile' 
conflates separate developmental moult stages, namely 3JJ (true juvenile), 3JP (started 
post-juvenile body moult), 3P (advanced post-juvenile body moult) or 30 (completed post¬ 
juvenile moult). The true juvenile plumage in passerines constitutes the initial, short-lived, 
plumage stage the feather groups of which are grown while in the nest and which are 
at least partially replaced soon after fledging, hence post-juvenile moult (Svensson 1992, 
Jenni & Winkler 1994). It is the short-lived nature of this true juvenile plumage which 
results in it being relatively rarely encountered by observers. 

METHODS 

Sylvia warblers in their first calendar year were trapped using mist nets at a site in the west 
of Girne/Kyrenia District, North Cyprus, in July 2009 and July-early August 2010 under the 


16 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Ku§kor (www.kuskor.org) ringing scheme. Before release, each was marked using A-size 
leg rings with unique alphanumeric identifiers. The trapping area was within sparsely- 
wooded open scrub amounting to a patchwork of low to high limestone-based garrigue 
vegetation. Adult Cyprus Warblers on territories were readily observed throughout the 
breeding season without the presence of other Sylvia Warblers. At these times Sardinian 
Warbler had yet to be recorded within several kilometres of the site though may well have 
been close by. Allowing for the possibility of either Sardinian or Spectacled Warbler post- 
fledging dispersal from adjacent regions, specific attribution was derived on the basis of 
feather structure, moult condition, plumage colour, bare parts and biometrical criteria 
following Svensson (1992) and Shirihai et al (2001) and, for one individual, DNA analysis 
(see below). 

Trapped fully grown birds which were not adult were inspected for the presence of 
juvenile-type feathers, feather tracts and/or growth patterns and the presence or extent 
of post-juvenile moult. Juvenile plumage of Sylvia warblers appears similar to 1st winter 
plumages in the field but is distinctive on close inspection of the feathers and skin surface 
in the hand. Uniquely, juvenile body feathers emerge from a few well-defined tracts 
separated by wide gaps of featherless skin. Individual juvenile feathers have weak shafts 
and light vane structure as a consequence of loosely connected barbules. These give 
juvenile body plumage a characteristic matt, ragged texture. First winter or adult-type 
body feathers emerge later as a result of post-juvenile moult which is readily identified 
by feather pins appearing on the bare skin between the juvenile tracts and from which 
emerge new firm-textured feathers of contrasting tone and colour. The previously bare 
skin is eventually covered with these feathers. Concurrently, the juvenile feathers of the 
original tracts are themselves replaced. For the purpose of the study, individuals with 
post-juvenile feathers showing were discounted and aged as 1st winter. 

Biometrics of various wing morphology features were recorded: wing length (maximum 
length, Svensson 1992) using a zero-stopped rule; the distance between the tip of the 
outer vestigial primary feather and the tip of the adjacent primary feather (P10 and P9 
numbered descendantly, or P9>P10); tail length from the base of the feathers to the tip of 
the longest tail feathers; the distance between the tip of the longest primary covert and 
the tip of primary 10 (P10>PC); the distance from the tip of the longest tertial feather to 
the wing point (WP>tertials). These observations were compared with data from live birds 
presented in Shirihai et al (2001: p507). 

A sample was taken from a dropped tail feather of one putative juvenile Cyprus 
Warbler (A000974) for the purposes of DNA analysis in order to confirm the species. The 
mitochondrial DNA of this sample was analysed by Elizabeth Heap of the University of 
Edinburgh who matched it against DNA sequences for Sylvia species. 

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 

All of the study juveniles trapped (n=14) were attributed to S. melanothorax on the basis of 
plumage, wing formula and biometrics, though some of the biometrical values overlapped 
with the other Sylvia warblers found in Cyprus. The overall structure and bare parts as 
well as alarm and contact calls were observed to match S. melanothorax. Three individuals 
had commenced post-juvenile moult of either flight feathers, or had progressed body 
moult. Since the study was primarily concerned with the biometrics of true juvenile 
feathers only, these individuals were excluded from the data set. 

Wing and tail measurements are described in Table 1. Shirihai et al (2001) gave 
age-related data for wing and tail of migrating or wintering birds trapped in Israel post¬ 
breeding for both adults and 'juveniles' but they were presumably able to ascertain the sex 
of the latter only on the basis of post-juvenile sexually dimorphic plumage characteristics. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 17 


Table I. Biometrics of true juveniles (present study) and fully grown (fg) immatures (Shirihai et al 2001) of Cyprus 
Warbler Sylvia melanothorax. 



n 


Range 

Mean 

SE 

SD 

Wing unsexed true juveniles, Cyprus 

1 1 


56-60 

58 


0.43 

1.44 

Wing fg immature males, Israel 

16 



60.1 



1.22 

Wing fg immature females, Israel 

15 



58.5 



0.73 

Tail unsexed true juveniles, Cyprus 

1 1 


53-58 

55.6 


0.49 

1.62 

Tail fg immature males, Israel 

16 



56.3 



1.67 

Tail fg immature females, Israel 

16 



54.9 



2.49 

Table 2. Biometrics of true juvenile Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax in 
(immature and adult) birds from Shirihai et al (2001). 

Cyprus (present study) and fully grown 



n 

Range 


Mean 

SE 

SD 

P9>PI0 unsexed juveniles, Cyprus 


1 1 

23.2-28.8 


26.8 

0.59 

1.97 

P9>PI0 all fg, Israel 


31 

27.5-32.7 


30.6 


1.23 

Tail/Wing ratio unsexed juveniles, Cyprus 


1 1 

0.898-1.01 


0.956 

0.008 

0.028 

Tail/Wing ratio all fg, Israel 


53 

0.893-1.00 


0.942 


0.026 

PI0>PCs unsexed juveniles, Cyprus 


1 1 

0.6-4.5 


2.3 

0.4 

1.36 

P10>PCs all fg, Israel 


37 

0.5^.5 


2.5 


1.04 

WP>tertials unsexed juveniles, Cyprus 


6 

6.8-8.3 


7.5 

0.23 

0.58 

WP>tertials all fg, Israel 


14 

8.0-1 1.2 


9.3 


0.88 


Strictly, these 'juveniles' would be described as 1st winter or fully grown immature since 
they no longer had full juvenile plumage. Since, ordinarily, post-juvenile moult in Cyprus 
Warbler may include some of the flight feathers as well as body feathers; it is assumed 
that Shirihai et al's (2001) 1st winter/immature birds might have had some adult-type flight 
feathers. In the present study true juveniles appear to be shorter-winged than Shirihai 
et al's (2001) 1st winter birds and the presence of post-juvenile wing moult accounts for 
this. It is common in passerines for juvenile flight feathers to be shorter than adult-type 
equivalents (Svensson 1992). 

Further biometrics are reported in Table 2. These are linked to length of primary 
flight feathers. With the notable exception of tail/wing ratio, which is a relative measure, 
the means suggest dimensions of the present study's juveniles were smaller than those 
sampled from older birds trapped in Israel. This was also found when comparing the 
present study juveniles with the fully grown Cyprus Warblers trapped in Cyprus during 
the study. The mean juveniles' wing lengths compared to the mean of fully grown Cyprus 
Warblers (post-juvenile and adult) differ significantly in a two-tailed test: 58 mm (SD1.4) 
compared to 59 mm (SD1.5), t n = 2.074, p = 0.05. This could be further clarified by larger 
sample sizes. 

Real differences in wing size between true juveniles and post-juvenile/adult birds 
might also account for the differences between Shirhai et al's (2001) groupings of data 
points on his chart, which plots tail/wing ratio against the distance between plO and 
p9 (Shirihai et al 2001: p509 figure 10), compared to the findings of the current study. 
In Shirihai et al's (2001) chart Cyprus Warbler biometrics are neatly grouped such that 
they are distinct from Sardinian Warblers of both the nominate and the Levantine 


18 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 






Table 3. Mitochondrial DNA match report for the 
juvenile Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax sample 
A000974, Cyprus, trapped 30 July 2009, analysed by 
Elizabeth Heap. 

Sylvia melanothorax mitochondrial cytb gene for 
cytochrome b 

Length^ I 143 

Score = 658 bits (356), Expect = 0.0 
Identities = 356/356 (100%), Gaps = 0/356 (0%) 

Sylvia cantillans albistriata haplotype a5 cytochrome b 
(cytb) gene, 

partial cds; mitochondrial 
Length= 1090 

Score = 558 bits (302), Expect = 6e-156 
Identities = 338/356 (94%), Gaps = 0/356 (0%) 

Sylvia rueppelll mitochondrial cytb gene for cytochrome b 
Length= I 143 

Score = 492 bits (266), Expect = 2e-143 
Identities = 326/356 (91%), Gaps = 0/356 (0%) 

Sylvia melanocephala voucher IPMB 6937 cytochrome b 
(cytb) gene, 

partial cds; mitochondrial 
Length=917 

Score = 488 bits (264), Expect = 3e-142 
Identities = 325/355 (91%), Gaps = 2/355 (0%) 


momus subspecies. However the equivalent 
criteria from the current study plotted 
on the same chart would classify only 
four of the study individuals as Cyprus 
Warblers, the remaining seven falling 
within S. melanocephala momus, including 
individual A000974; the Cyprus Warbler 
whose specific identity was confirmed 
by DNA analysis. There was no evidence 
to suggest these birds were S. m. momus 
and the coincidence can be accounted 
for by the subspecies' size proximity to 
Cyprus Warbler, which is in contrast to 
the larger nominate S. m. melanocephala. 
The breeding Sardinian Warbler of Cyprus 
is the nominate subspecies, based on the 
biometrics derived from routine ringing 
and previous studies (pers obs, Flint & 
McArthur 2014). 

Table 3 gives the results of the DNA 
analysis from the single juvenile, A000974. 
The DNA sample gave a 100% match, 
confirming the original attribution to 
Cyprus Warbler. Since mitochondrial DNA 
analysis tests maternity only, the mother of 
this individual was a Cyprus Warbler. In the 
absence of either direct or circumstantial 
evidence for hybrid breeding in the area, 
the prospect of this bird being the product of mixed parentage is presumed remote. 
Cyprus Warbler is otherwise not known to hybridise with congeners including Sardinian 
Warbler (Shirihai et al 2001), which is not its closest Sylvia relative (Table 3). 

Plate 1 shows photographs of A000974, confirmed by DNA analysis as Cyprus Warbler. 
It shows a typical bill shape and colour, eye and head shape of Cyprus Warbler. Also 



Plate I. DNA tested true (3JJ) juvenile Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax, A000974, in complete juvenile plumage, 
Girne/Kyrenia District, Cyprus, 24 July 2009. Changes in colour temperature and ambient colour environment 
between the two images accounts for the browner appearance of the image on the right. © C Walton 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


19 


















Plate 2. Unsexed true (3JJ) juvenile Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax (right) and a true (3JJ) juvenile, presumed 
female, Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala (left), Kalkanli/Kapouti, Cyprus, 22 July 201 I. Juvenile Cyprus Warbler 
plumage is less contrasting and more concolourous than that of the juvenile Sardinian Warbler, which show mixes 
of brown and grey and greater contrasts across feather groups. The underparts of Cyprus Warblers are invariably 
lighter in tone than their upperparts and brown hues to head and body are less vivid than those of Sardinian Warbler. 
© C Walton 


Plate 3. One of the true (3JJ) juvenile Cyprus Warblers 
Sylvia melanothorax from the present study showing dark 
tones to upperparts, Girne/Kyrenia District, Cyprus, 22 
July 2009. Sexually dimorphic juvenile plumage is not yet 
proven in Cyprus Warbler (see text). © C Walton 


the rather monotone and concolourous 
grey-brown plumage is characteristic of 
juveniles. Sardinian Warbler has a sexually 
dimorphic juvenile plumage so males may 
be separable from females when comparison 
together in the field is possible, even before 
the onset of post-juvenile moult (Peter Flint 
pers comm). Plate 2 compares a juvenile 
Cyprus Warbler and a juvenile Sardinian 
Warbler, presumed female, trapped outside 
the main study area. No unequivocally 
juvenile (3JJ) male Sardinian Warbler was 
trapped or observed. 

Juvenile Cyprus Warbler is currently not 
known to be sexually dimorphic (Shirihai 
et al 2001). However, juveniles appear to 
have more than a single morph, with some 
individuals appearing grey-brown with 
dark brown flight feathers: these would be 
putatively female due to their proximity to 
post-juvenile female characteristics. Others 
appear to be greyer, with darker grey- 


20 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 

















brown upperparts and dark grey-brown tail feathers (Plate 3). This possibility requires 
further investigation. 

CONCLUSIONS 

There are small differences between juvenile and adult wing morphology in Cyprus 
Warblers. Juvenile primary flight feathers appear shorter than the adult-type. Juvenile 
Cyprus Warblers are separable from juvenile Sardinian Warblers on plumage and 
structural criteria. Whether observed tonal differences in the plumage of juvenile Cyprus 
Warblers is due to normal variation or is sexually-determined dimorphism requires 
further investigation. Further details on the sexually-dimorphic juvenile plumage of 
Sardinian Warbler are also required. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

The author wishes to thank the Cmvre Koruma Dairesi Miidurliigu for ringing permissions. Sincere thanks 
to Elizabeth Heap for providing the results of her DNA analysis; to Wayne Fuller, Robin Snape, Damla 
Beton and all at Ku§kor for their backing and assistance. Peter Flint's assistance with Sardinian Warbler was 
invaluable; any errors here are my own. My father and mother-in-law have helped and accommodated the 
ringing projects for many years, their support is much appreciated. 

REFERENCES 

Cramp, S (ed).1992. The Birds of the Western Pnlearctic, Vol 6 Warblers. Oxford University Press, UK. 

Flint, P & A McArthur. 2014. Is the Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala displacing the endemic Cyprus 
Warbler S. melanothorax on Cyprus? Sandgrouse 36: 63-109. 

Jenni, F & R Winkler. 1994. Moult and Ageing of European Passerines. Academic Press, Fondon. 

Shirihai, H, G Gargallo & AJ Helbig. 2001. Sylvia Warblers. Christopher Helm, Fondon. 

Svensson, F. 1992. Identification Guide to European Passerines. Svensson, Stockholm. 

Clive Walton, c/o Kuskor, PK 650, Vakiflar Carsisi Kat:2, No:3-4, Girne, Mersin 10, North Cyprus. acro.scirpaceus@yahoo. 
com 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 21 



First evidence of colonization by Common 
Myna Acridotheres tristis in Jordan, 2013-2014 

FARES KHOURY & MOHAMMED ALSHAMLIH 

Ecologically, invasive animal species alter the abundance and diversity of native species 
by predation and competition and alter ecosystem functions and energy influxes 
jeopardizing the existence of native species (Strayer et al 2006, Ehrenfeld 2010, Ricciardi et 
al 2013). Invasive species are introduced either incidentally eg passive transfer in ballast 
water or intentionally to procure some supposed benefit. Incidental introduction of birds 
is either by pet trade escapees or passive relocation on freighters and ships. The Common 
Myna Acridotheres tristis is considered by IUCN as one of the world's most invasive alien 
bird species (Lowe et al 2000).The natural distribution of the Common Myna ranges from 
central to southeastern Asia (Feare & Craig 1998). It has been introduced either intentionally 
or unintentionally to various parts of the world including the Arabian peninsula and parts 
of the Levant, where it has established colonies, mainly in gardens and parks in urbanized 
areas (Porter et al 1996, Holzapfel et al 2006). The man-made habitats colonized by Common 
Myna in the Middle East apparently resemble the tropical and sub-tropical habitats found 
in its natural range (Holzapfel et al 2006). 

During 2013 there were three records in 
three different sites in Jordan (Figure 1); all 
were accepted by the Jordan bird records 
committee JBRC. Two birds 17 April 2013 
in a western suburb of Amman (along 
the medical city road, 31° 58' N, 35° 50' E, 

970 m asl), and seen at least once more at 
same location later in the month (once seen 
visiting a hole in a high, man-made wall 
there). First confirmed country record. Not 
seen at this location 2014. One bird shot 
at initially unknown location in Jordan 
valley as indicated by photo posted by a 
Jordanian hunter on his Facebook page (24 
June 2013). This record later confirmed to 
be within Jordan, close to Madaba (c30 km 
south of Amman). Two birds recorded 12 
August 2013 near Queen Alia (Amman) 
international airport entrance close to a parking lot in an area with landscaping (palm 
trees, irrigated lawns etc), 25 km south of Amman (31° 43' N, 35° 58' E, 715 m asl). 

During 2014, there were several further sightings at two locations (records 4-6 
for Jordan, accepted JBRC). Kafrein (fourth/fifth records)—two birds observed and 
photographed perching on electricity pole near Kafrein village, Jordan valley north of the 
Dead sea, during May 2014. A pair recorded 30 July on Amman-Dead sea main road just 
east of Kafrein (31° 50' N, 35° 4T E, 150 m asl-150 m bsl, Plate 1, description below). A third 
bird, apparently associated with the pair, was observed for a few seconds at distance but 
could not be identified with certainty. The pair was observed once more at the same site 
in the following week. The birds were frequently using the ground near the road and on 
a nearby slope for foraging and were perching on scattered Prosopis juliflora shrubs (an 
introduced invasive species), electricity poles, and small abandoned huts. A pumping 



Figure I. Map of Jordan showing the approximate 
distribution of Common Myna Acridotheres tristis according 
to the 2013-2014 records from western Amman, south of 
Amman and Kafrein in the Jordan valley. 


22 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 





Plate I. Common Mynas Acridotheres tristis , near Kafrein, Jordan valley, Jordan, 30 July 2014. © Fares Khoury 


station building surrounded by planted trees and shrubs was also frequented by the birds. 
On 3 September 2014 the site was visited again and three mynas were recorded in the early 
morning flying towards the west. It appeared that the birds were heading to the Kafrein 
dam or adjacent farmland 2-3 km away, presumably for drinking and feeding. Queen Alia 
international airport (sixth record)—two Common Mynas were on the ground at the edge 
of the road near the entrance of Queen Alia airport 31 August 2014. A pair of Common 
Mynas was reported twice from this site by two birdwatchers, June and July 2014. 

The description of the fifth record is provided here (Plate 1; all other records had either 
a similar description and/or were supported by photographs). The birds had body size and 
shape between Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris and Tristram's Grackle Onychognathus 
tristramii, with a brown coloration which was generally darker on the upper side of the 
body than the lower. Black head, nape, throat and upper breast, and tail tipped white. 
Belly much paler brown turning to whitish centrally and lower, under-tail coverts white, 
obvious white patch visible in broad rounded wing while flying. Beak, legs and naked skin 
around eye yellow. Occasionally vocal, sounds not loud but variable. When approached 
alarm call repeatedly uttered, a distinctive loud 'craaah'. 

These records of Common Myna in Jordan are not unexpected and are assumed to 
be of escaped (or released) birds, given this species is occasionally kept as a cage bird in 
Jordan. However, records of the Common Myna in the Kafrein area are perhaps more 
likely to be due to the expanding population west of the Jordan in the West Bank (Figure 1). 

Landscaped areas in and around cities, as well as some of the disturbed and planted 
areas in the Jordan valley and along its lower margins where a hot subtropical climate 
prevails (eg Kafrein), appear to be suitable sites for the establishment of colonies of the 
Common Myna. Although nests or juvenile birds have not yet been observed, the apparent 
persistence of one or more pairs for at least 12 months at Queen Alia airport and the 
presence of three birds close to Kafrein throughout the summer of 2014 suggests breeding 
or attempted breeding, and thus a prelude to colonization. Another myna species, the 
Bank Myna Acridotheres ginginianus, has been recorded previously in the Jordan valley but 
it did not establish a population there despite attempted breeding near the shores of the 
Dead sea (Khoury et al 2012). 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


23 










ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

We thank the birdwatchers who provided us with information about Common Myna sightings in Jordan, 

namely Mohammed Asfur, Laith Moghrabi, Sami Shamah and Osama Rabai'ah. 

REFERENCES 

Ehrenfeld, J. 2010. Ecosystem consequences of biological invasions. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and 
Systematics 41: 59-80. 

Feare, C & A Craig. 1998. Starlings and Mynas. Christopher Helm, London. 

Holzapfel, C, N Levin, O Hatzofe & S Kark. 2006. Colonisation of the Middle East by the invasive Common 
Myna Acridotheres tristis L., with special reference to Israel. Sandgrouse 28(1): 44-51. 

Khoury, F., Z Amr, N Hamidan, I A1 Hassani, S Mir, E Eid & N Bolad. 2012. Some introduced vertebrate 
species to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Vertebrate Zoology 62(3): 435-451. 

Lowe, S, M Browne, S Boudjelas & M De Poorter. 2000. 100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien Species. Invasive 
Species Specialist Group ISSG/SSC, Auckland, [www.issg./booklet.pdf] 

Porter, R, S Christensen & P Schiermacker-Hansen. 1996. Field Guide to the Birds of the Middle East. T & AD 
Poyser, London. 

Ricciardi, A, M Hoopes, M Marchetti & J Lockwood. 2013. Progress toward understanding the ecological 
impacts of non-native species. Ecological Monographs 83: 263-282. 

Strayer, D, V Eviner, J Jeschke & M Pace. 2006. Understanding the long-term effects of species invasions. 
Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20(11): 645-651. 

Fares Khoury, Department of Biology and Biotechnology, American University ofMadaba, Jordan, f.khoury@aum.edu.jo 

Mohammed Alshamlih, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, alshamlih@gmail.com 


24 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Two overlooked specimens of Slender-billed 
Curlew Numenius tenuirostris from Turkey 

ANDREA CORSO, JUSTIN JFJ JANSEN & GUY M KIRWAN 

Gretton (1991), within a wide-ranging review of the species' declining status, and 
subsequently Kirwan et al (2008), in the context of a national avifauna, endeavoured to 
present a complete record of the Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris in Turkey. 
The former included, as noted by Kirwan (1997), several 'records' that were in fact either 
erroneous or had never been claimed as definite, whilst Gretton was unaware of four 
specimens, all from the late 19th or early 20th centuries, held in museums in Sofia and 
Istanbul, and all of which have been personally examined by GMK (for full details see 
Kirwan 1997, Kirwan et al 2008), while Boev (2003) initially reported the two in Sofia. 
Remarkably, both Gretton (1991) and Kirwan et al (2008), and others who have published 
detailed reviews of the Turkish avifauna, most notably Kumerloeve (1961), overlooked 
two specimens held in what is now the Natural History Museum, Tring (BMNH), despite 
that they were listed in the relevant volume of the Catalogue of birds of the British Museum 
(Sharpe 1896). 

Both specimens were collected by Thomas Robson within the general environs of 
Istanbul, from whence comes all of this collector's material. BMNH 1892.8.3.452, a male, 
was taken at Ismid (= Izmit, 40° 46' N, 29° 55' E), just east of Istanbul, on 1 April 1867, and 
was subsequently in the collection of Henry Seebohm before coming to BMNH. BMNH 
1879.4.5.1318, an immature female, was taken at Cartal (= Kartal, 41° 07' N, 28° 03' E), now 
part of Istanbul, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, on 19 December 1867, and came to 
BMNH via the Godman & Salvin collection. Their identification was separately confirmed 
by AC and JJFJJ during preparatory work on Corso et al (2014). These are the earliest 
records of the species in Turkey. 

Kirwan et al (2008) listed a total of 28 records of Slender-billed Curlew in Turkey. 
However, with hindsight, a great many of these must now be regarded as unsafe, and a 
review of these, and records from elsewhere in the Middle East is in progress (Kirwan, 
Porter & Scott in prep). 

REFERENCES 

Boev, Z. 2003. Specimens of extinct and threatened birds in the collections of the National Museum of 
Natural History in Sofia, Bulgaria. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club Supplement 123A: 234-245. 
Corso, A, JJFJ Jansen & S Kokay. 2014. A review of the identification criteria and variability of the Slender- 
billed Curlew. British Birds 107: 339-370. 

Gretton, A. 1991. The Ecology and Conservation of the Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris). ICBP 
Monograph 6. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, UK. 

Kirwan, GM. 1997. A list of bird specimens held in the Robert's College, Bebek (Istanbul, Turkey) collection, 
with some comments on Mathey-Dupraz (1920-24). Sandgrouse 19: 30-38. 

Kirwan, GM, KA Boyla, P Castell, B Demirci, M Ozen, H Welch & T Marlow. 2008. The birds of Turkey: the 
distribution, taxonomy and breeding of Turkish birds. Christopher Helm, London. 

Kumerloeve, H. 1961. Zur Kenntnis der Avifauna Kleinasiens. Bonner Zoblogische Beitrdge 12: 1-318. 

Sharpe, RB. 1896. Catalogue of the birds in the British Museum, vol 24. Trustees of the British Museum, London. 

Andrea Corso, Via Camastra 10, 96100 Siracusa, Italy, voeloeeante@yahoo.it 
Justin JFJ Jansen, Ravelijn 6, 5361 Ej Grave, Netherlands, justin.jansen@g7nail.com 
Guy M Kirwan, 74 Waddington Street, Norwich NR2 4JS, UK. GMKirwan@aol.com 


\ 

Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


25 


First record of a drongo Dicrurus in Arabia 

PWP BROWNE 


Whilst working in Aden, Yemen (then a British colony) March 1946-February 1948 I 
regularly recorded the birds I saw in the colony. My observations were published in Ibis 
(Browne 1950). That report did not include a bird observed and described in my notes, 
which I now realise was a drongo Dicrurus sp. The details recorded in my Aden field 
notebook for 28 October 1946 follow. I spotted the bird, c7.5-8 inches long, in the trees of 
the crescent, 'Steamer Point' area. Plumage was all glossy black except for slightly lighter 
beneath the tail with possible small white marks near the tip. The bill also was black or 
very dark, legs lightish brown. The tail was shaped something as indicated in Plate 1 and 
was frequently spread upon alighting. The bird made several extensive sallies into the 
air from a branch or telegraph wire after insects as does a shrike or flycatcher and often 
flicked wings etc. The bill was shaped as shown in Plate 1, possibly not so conical. The eye 
was noticeably red. Call, a short squeaking 'tzeek'. 

The crescent was in an urban locality, Tawahi, and the trees were beside or close to the 
road. The coordinates were not recorded at the time but were cl2.7893° N, 44.9821° E (from 
Google maps). 

The above observation was made using 8x30 binoculars. I could not identify the bird 
for certain. I had never previously seen a drongo and had no book then that included 
an illustration or description of one. However, I was accompanied that day by Reverend 
JAH Dagger, an RAF Chaplain, who was visiting Aden and I believe that he may have 
suggested the name. Anyway, in 1956, Sergeant AS Norris of the RAF wrote me from 
Germany regarding bird observations he had made in Aden and mentioned that Reverend 
Dagger, who was then also stationed in Germany, was "the promoter of a Bird Watching 
Society in the 2nd TAF. I'm sure he mentioned you in connection with the occurrence of 
a species of drongo when you were together once." From the colour, tail shape, size and 
behaviour it seems certain that this was indeed a drongo. The most likely species from the 

point of view of natural distribution is the 
Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis that 
occurs on the southern side of the gulf of 
Aden in Somalia and Djibouti, thence south 
and west over much of Africa (Redman et al 
2009 and other references). 

My description corresponds to Dicrurus 
adsimilis except for four points: (1) paler 
edgings were not noticed on flight feathers; 

Plate I. Sketches of tail and bill shape of drongo 
Dicrurus sp, Aden, 28 October 1946, scanned from field 
notebook. © PWP Browne 




26 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 






(2) legs were described as lightish brown whereas all species of drongo are pictured with 
black legs in del Hoyo et al (2000); (3) length was estimated at 19-20 cm whereas that of 
the Fork-tailed Drongo is given as 23-26 cm in del Hoyo et al (2000); (4) some illustrations 
show a more deeply forked tail than appears in my sketch. In my opinion these points do 
not invalidate the identification as a drongo, and probably the Fork-tailed Drongo, for the 
following reasons. My failing to notice paler edgings to the flight feathers could have been 
because of my unfamiliarity with the species and being unaware of what to look for; the 
appearance of pale legs may have been caused by angle of view and lighting conditions; 
the slightly small size estimate is explainable by lack of any objective comparison; and 
the tail shape could have been due to the bird being a female since, "The female has a less 
deeply forked 'fish-tail'" (Mackworth-Praed & Grant 1960). 

To have come directly from Africa this bird would have had a 250 km sea crossing, 
but a more likely way for an African bird to enter Arabia would have been via the Bab-el- 
Mandeb strait. Here the longest sea crossing is only 21 km. From there to Aden is 150 km 
east by land. The only other bird I recorded in the trees in the same area as the drongo 
on the same day was a Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri, another African species 
that also occurs in Djibouti and Somaliland, but was seen in Aden frequently October- 
February (Browne 1950). A drongo of unknown species was reported on the Red sea coast 
of Saudi Arabia on 20 January 2014 (per M Jennings) some 650 km north-northwest of the 
strait. The Fork-tailed Drongo is usually described as resident but the Borrow & Demey 
(2004) distribution map shows areas on the northern edge of its west and central African 
range where it is "mainly resident but partially migratory or erratic within range". October 
is in the monsoon season when such movements occur in other Afrotropical species. 

Two Asian drongo species have occurred in the last 20 years in the UAE and Oman 
(Aspinall & Porter, 2011), the Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus and Black Drongo D. 
macrocercus. Both species are common in India but vagrants to eastern Arabia. Even a 
natural vagrant occurrence in western Yemen seems very unlikely. However, the location 
of my observation is only a km or so from Aden port, and there was frequent maritime 
traffic from India to Aden in that era so assisted passage would have been a possibility. 
The Ashy Drongo which has greyish plumage can be ruled out because the bird I saw was 
glossy black. The Black Drongo is bigger than Fork-tailed Drongo and has a more deeply 
forked tail, neither feature fitting into my observations. Also it has a white rictal spot 
which I probably would have noticed. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 

I am grateful to Mike Jennings who pointed out that this is the first drongo record for Arabia and for encour¬ 
aging me to write this note. He kindly supplied me with contextual information about the record and with 
scanned copies of several references. 

REFERENCES 

Aspinall, S & R Porter. 2011. Birds of the United Arab Emirates. Christopher Helm, London 
Borrow, N & R Demey. 2004. Birds of Western Africa. Princeton University Press, NJ. 

Browne, PWP. 1950. Notes on birds observed in South Arabia. Ibis 92: 52-65. 

del Hoyo, J, A Elliott & DA Christie (eds). 2000. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Voll4. Lynx Edicions, 
Barcelona. 

Mackworth Praed, CW & CHB Grant. 1960. African Handbook of Birds, Series 1, Eastern and North Eastern 
Africa. Vol 2. Longmans, UK. 

Redman, N, T Stevenson & J Fanshawe. 2009. Birds of the Horn of Africa. Christopher Helm, London. 

PWP Browne, 115 Crichton Street, Ottawa, ON, KIM 1V8, Canada, pbrowne@primus.ca 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


27 


An annotated checklist of the birds of 
Turkmenistan 

ELDAR A RUSTAMOV 

Turkmenistan is located in the southwest of Central (Middle) Asia and covers more than 
491 200 km 2 and extends 1100 km from west to east and 650 km from north to south. 
Turkmenistan includes the coast of the Caspian sea in the west, the cliff faces of the Ustyurt 
plateau in the north, the Amudar'ya river valley in the east and the Kopetdag mountains 
in the south. Turkmenistan borders Kazakhstan in the northwest, Uzbekistan in the 
northeast and east, Afghanistan in the southeast and Iran in the southwest. More than 75% 
of the country is lowland, including river valleys, and c25% is mountains and foothills. 
See Figure 1 which also shows the main locations mentioned in the text. Altitudes range 
from -81 m up to 3139 m asl. Apart from the major rivers—Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, 
Murgab, Tejen and Etrek—natural waterbodies are scarce, therefore discharge lakes, either 
of agricultural or domestic waste water, and water storage reservoirs provide important 
habitat for many species either breeding, wintering or on migration. Up to 2014, a total of 
433 species has been recorded in Turkmenistan. 

The study of avifauna in Turkmenistan covers more than 200 years. Many works on 
Turkmenistan birds were published mainly in the 20th century in Russian. The most 
notable and comprehensive are 'Ornithological fauna of the Transcaspian' NA Zarudny 
(1896), 'Guide to the vertebrates of Turkmenskaya SSR. Birds' EL Shestoperov (1937), 'Birds 
of Turkmenistan, Volume T GP Dement'ev (1952), 'Birds of the Karakum desert' and 'Birds 
of Turkmenistan, Volume 2' AK Rustamov (1954, 1958), 'Birds of Middle Asia' edited by 
AK Rustamov & AF Kovshar' (2007), 'Important Bird Areas in Turkmenistan' edited by E 



SarykamysHf 


Karabogazgol 
l Bay 


Soltansanjar, 
Reservoir ! 


Krasnovodsk 

Plateau 


rKjavtendag 


CsurnoW 


jKarakurriH 


w^Zeyit 

Reservoir 


Legend 

~ 1 Oases 

| | Barkhan sand dunes 

Takyrs 
Landslides 
Salinized iand 
Water 






Qgurjaly 


Island 


Sand desert 


Badhyz 


y] Gypsum desert 
B Loam (Clay) desert. 
i 1 Foothills 

j i Sand & Gypsum desert 

Sand & Loam (Clay) desert 


Sand & Foothill desert 
River valley 
Lower mountain zone 
Middle mountain zone 
Hight mountan zone 


50 0 50 Kilometres 


Figure I. Physiographic features and regions of Turkmenistan. 


28 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 

















Rustamov, G Welch & M Brombacher (2010) and 'Birds of Turkmenistan: Illustrated Field 
Guide' edited by EA Rustamov (2013). 

The checklist species accounts are based on a comprehensive analysis of the available 
information, primarily: Isakov (1940), Dement'ev (1952), Rustamov (1954, 1958, 1994), 
Geptner (1956), Shukurov (1962), Sukhinin (1971), Mischenko (1986), Karavaev (1991a), 
Bukreev (1997) and Vasil'ev et al (2009). The author's own data from 1970-2012 were 
also used ( ie materials which were received during the implementation of the RSPB/ 
BirdLife International Important Bird Area programme, see Rustamov et al 2010) together 
with the author's experience gained during preparation of Rustamov (2013) and the 
List of Birds in the appendix of AK Rustamov (2011). The other sources quoted provide 
specific information eg for vagrants. I follow the nomenclature and taxonomy used in 
Birdlife International (2012). Exceptions were made for some Passeriformes following LS 
Stepanyan (2003): Lesser Citrine Wagtail Motacilla verae, Common Black-backed Wagtail 
Motacilla calcarata , Turkestan Shrike Lanins phoenicuroides, Indian House Sparrow Passer 
indicus , Grey-headed Goldfinch Carduelis caniceps, Mongolian Finch Bucanetes mongolicus 
and Great-billed Reed Bunting Emberiza pyrrhuloides. 

Where included the threat status of species are those given in the IUCN Red List (www. 
iucnredlist.org) and/or the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (2011). With the exception of 
RDBT category IV "Rare species (subspecies) to indicate endemic populations of national 
or regional importance or relict species whose loss would lead to the depletion of the 
biodiversity gene pool", the RDBT criteria match those of IUCN. The following status 
definitions are used: vagrant, recorded on three or less occasions; rare, recorded on four 
to ten occasions; uncommon, only recorded occasionally in the appropriate habitat and/or 
season; local, primarily used for breeding species to indicate either a scattered or restricted 
distribution. Also to avoid unnecessary repetition, the inshore and offshore regions of the 
Caspian sea are simply referred to as the Caspian and the littoral, intertidal and coastal 
plain regions as the Caspian shore. 

SPECIES ACCOUNTS 

Caspian Snowcock Tetraogallus caspius. Resident. Occurs in upper mountain belt (above 2000 
m asl) of central Kopetdag. Threatened and very rare with a limited range. RDBT category 
II (EN). 

Chukar Alectoris chukar. Resident but undertakes altitudinal movements during cold weather. 
Widespread in mountains and foothills and along Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab, 
Tejen valleys, eastern Uzboy, the Caspian region and south Ustyurt. Uncommon in central 
Karakum. A common species but decreasing due to hunting pressure. 

See-see Partridge Ammoperdix griseogularis. Resident and widely distributed eg Kubadag, 
Bolshoy and Maly Balkhans, Badkhyz, Karabil' and Koytendag. As Chukar, the population 
is decreasing due to hunting pressure. 

Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus. Resident and only found southwestern Turkmenistan 
being locally distributed in lower reaches of the Etrek, Sumbar and Chandyr. Scarce and 
decreasing. RDBT category II (EN). 

Common Quail Coturnix coturnix. Widely distributed passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor to river valleys, fields and steppe/grassland zones of Kopetdag, Koytendag, Badkhyz 
and Karabil'. Spring migration April and early May, autumn September-end October. 

Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus. Resident. There are four subspecies differing in 
morphology and distribution: persicus inhabits Sumbar and Chandyr river valleys, 
principalis is found in oases of the foothills of Kopetdag and the Tejen and Murgab river 
valleys, zarudny is found in the middle part of the Amudar'ya, and chrysomelas is restricted 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 29 


to Amudar'ya delta and Sarykamysh lake. Populations fluctuate and the species is under 
hunting pressure. 

Swan Goose Anser cygnoides. Vagrant, with one seen Amudar'ya valley September 2005 
(Marochkina & Rustamov 2008). 

Bean Goose Anser fabnlis. Irregular winter visitor (November-March) in small numbers to the 
Amudar'ya and wetlands in eastern Turkmenistan. 

Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons. Generally scarce passage migrant and winter 
visitor (October-February) to many wetlands, especially those close to winter cereals. Can 
be common in some years. 

Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus. Very scarce passage migrant and winter visitor 
to wetlands throughout Turkmenistan, usually found in the company of other geese. 
Included in IUCN Red List and RDBT category III (VU). 

Greylag Goose Anser anser. Common and numerous passage migrant and winter visitor 
(October-March) to natural and artificial inland wetlands, river valleys, fallow fields, 
winter cereals and, in smaller numbers, the Caspian shore. Commonest wintering goose. 

Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis. Very scarce passage migrant and irregular winter visitor 
mainly to southeastern Caspian. Included in IUCN Red List and RDBT category II (EN). 

Mute Swan Cygnus olor. Passage migrant, winter visitor and local summer breeding visitor 
(single pairs) mainly to Caspian and inland wetlands. During breeding season species 
prefers algae-rich desert waterbodies such as Sarykamysh and Jarsai lakes. Scarce spring 
and summer, common autumn and winter. 

Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus. Regular though not numerous passage migrant and winter 
visitor (October-March) to Caspian and inland wetlands. 

Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus. Uncommon, usually recorded as single birds along Caspian 
shore and on inland wetlands during winter but precise status uncertain. Recommended 
for inclusion in RDBT. 

Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea. Passage migrant and common, locally numerous, winter 
visitor to river valleys and large wetlands. Uncommon breeding summer visitor to salt 
lakes, less frequently on freshwater and discharge lakes. 

Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna. Widespread passage migrant in varying, numbers, even 
occurring in mountains during migration. Also breeding summer visitor to plains. 

Gadwall Anas strepera. Widespread passage migrant and winter visitor in small numbers. Also 
breeding summer visitor to the lakes and river flood areas, especially deltas, of the plains 
of Turkmenistan, and Sarykamysh lake. 

Falcated Duck Anas falcata. Vagrant with one record from Tejen valley, near Turkmenistan/Iran 
border, December 1908 (Zarudny 1910). 

Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope. Widespread passage migrant and winter visitor, usually in 
small numbers though can be locally common in winter, to wetlands, mainly on plains. 
Spring migration March-April, with some birds remaining until June, autumn September- 
November. 

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos. Numerous to very numerous passage migrant and winter visitor 
to Caspian, lakes, reservoirs, discharge areas and lowland wetlands including flooded 
autumn cereals. Uncommon breeding species, some resident. 

Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata. Passage migrant, winter visitor and breeding summer visitor 
in small numbers. Occurs on both freshwater and brackish wetlands including flood plain 
lakes along river valleys and discharge areas in deserts. Spring migration March-April, 
autumn migration mid September-mid November. 

Northern Pintail Anas acuta. Common passage migrant and winter visitor to discharge areas 
and shallow wetlands on plains. Spring migration mid February-end April, autumn mid 
September-mid November. 


30 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Garganey Anas querquedula. Common passage migrant and scarce in winter and summer 
mostly along river valleys and Caspian shore. Occurs at a variety of wetlands, most often 
shallow lakes and flooded grasslands. Spring migration mid March-early May, autumn 
mid August-end October. 

Common Teal Anas crecca. Numerous to very numerous passage migrant, with small numbers 
wintering on lakes, river valley wetlands and desert discharge areas. Spring migration mid 
February-end March, autumn September-October. 

Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris. Scarce and threatened breeding summer visitor, 
with small numbers winter. Found primarily in lower reaches of Etrek, Karakumdar'ya, 
Amudar'ya, Murgab and Tejen rivers, preferring shallow freshwater lakes with muddy 
shores and bottoms. Spring arrival from end April, autumn departure November. Included 
in IUCN Red List and RDBT category III (VU). 

Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina. Numerous to very numerous passage migrant and winter 
visitor, and scarce breeding species. Occurs mainly inland wetlands, river valley flood areas 
and Caspian. Spring migration end February-early April, autumn September-October. 

Common Pochard Aythya ferina. Common to locally very common passage migrant and 
winter visitor to all large wetlands. Probably breeds lower reaches of the Amudar'ya and 
Sarykamysh lake. Spring migration second half February-March, autumn September- 
November. 

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca. Scarce and threatened passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor, with some birds wintering. Scattered distribution throughout river valleys 
of the plains. Spring migration end February-mid April, autumn September-October. 
Included in IUCN Red List and RDBT category III (VU). 

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula. Common to locally very common passage migrant and winter 
visitor to Caspian and inland wetlands, usually with Common Pochard. Spring migration 
end of March-April, autumn October-November. 

Greater Scaup Aythya marila. Uncommon winter visitor to Caspian and large wetlands arriving 
October and departing March. Usually occurs singly or in small groups in flocks of Tufted 
Duck and Common Pochard. 

Common Scoter Melanitta nigra. Vagrant, Caspian and large inland wetlands (Dement'ev 1952). 

Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca. Uncommon, in some winters very uncommon, visitor to Caspian 
October-March. 

Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis. Uncommon and irregular winter visitor to Caspian, 
occasionally inland wetlands. Included in IUCN Red List (VU). 

Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor to 
inland wetlands and Caspian. Spring migration end February-mid April, autumn October- 
November. 

Smew Mergellus albellus. Uncommon to locally common passage migrant and winter visitor 
to scattered wetlands throughout. Spring migration mid February-March, autumn mid 
October-November. 

Red-breasted Merganser Mergus senator. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor 
to inland wetlands and Caspian. Spring migration second part March-April, autumn 
October-early November. 

Common Merganser Mergus merganser. Uncommon to locally common passage migrant and 
winter visitor to inland wetlands, especially those with high fish populations. Spring 
migration late February and March, autumn end October-November. 

White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala. Uncommon and threatened passage migrant and 
winter visitor, and probable though as yet unconfirmed breeding summer visitor to 
northern and eastern Turkmenistan. Scattered distribution in Etrek, Karakumdar'ya, 
Tejen, Murgab and Amudar'ya valleys. Spring migration from end of February and March, 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 31 


autumn migration October-November. Included in IUCN Red Data List and RDBT category 
III (VU). 

Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata. Uncommon and irregular passage migrant and winter 
visitor to Caspian and inland wetlands recorded end October-mid March. More regular in 
extremely cold winters (Dement'ev 1952, Karavaev 1991a, Khokhlov 1995). 

Arctic Loon Gavia arctica. Uncommon passage migrant and irregular winter visitor, especially 
in extremely cold winters; also recorded occasionally in summer. Autumn migration from 
end November and spring migration end February-mid May. 

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis. Passage migrant and winter visitor in varying numbers to 
Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab and Tejen valleys, lower reaches of the Etrek, Caspian, 
Sarykamysh lake, agricultural discharge lakes in deserts; also a breeding summer visitor. 
Spring migration March-April, autumn September-October. The most common grebe. 

Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor to a range 
of wetlands eg Sarykamysh lake, Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab and Tejen valleys, 
the lower reaches of the Etrek and the Caspian. May possibly breed Sarykamysh lake. 

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus. Common and widely distributed passage migrant and 
winter visitor to the Caspian and lower reaches of the Etrek; also a breeding summer visitor. 
Spring migration March-April, autumn October-November. 

Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor to river valleys 
and wetlands eg the Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab and Tejen, Sarykamysh lake, the 
lower reaches of the Etrek, the Caspian and agricultural discharge lakes in deserts. 

Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis. Common, locally numerous, passage migrant and 
winter visitor to Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab, Tejen and Etrek rivers, Sarykamysh 
lake, agricultural discharge lakes in central Karakum desert and the Caspian; also a rare 
breeding summer visitor. Spring migration April-May, autumn September-October. 

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus. Uncommon but occasionally numerous passage 
migrant and winter visitor, and irregular summer visitor, mainly found in shallow bays 
along Caspian shore and very rarely inland wetlands. Spring migration March-May, 
autumn September-November. In irregular extremely cold winters migrates south to 
Iranian Caspian returning when temperatures rise. RDBT category IV. 

Black Stork Ciconia nigra. Scarce but widespread passage migrant along river valleys and 
foothills, winter visitor and breeding summer visitor to Kopetdag and Koytendag, 
occasionally Badkhyz. RDBT category III (VU). 

White Stork Ciconia ciconia. Very rare and threatened and possibly extinct as a Turkmenistan 
species with no records during the last few decades. Occasional birds may occur in 
Amudar'ya or other river valleys. There were failed breeding attempts on lower reaches of 
the Etrek 1980-1982 (Belousov 1990). Recommended for inclusion in RDBT. 

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus. Uncommon to locally common passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor to large river valleys and Caspian shore. Spring migration March-May, 
autumn migration September. 

Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia. Uncommon passage migrant to river valleys and 
Caspian shore, preferring large lakes and flooded areas. Possibly breeds. Spring migration 
extends from February/March-May, autumn September-October. RDBT category IV. 

Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris. Common passage migrant and rare breeding summer visitor 
and winter visitor to Sarykamysh lake and Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab, Tejen and 
Etrek valleys. Part of population is possibly resident. 

Little Bittern Ixobrychus mihutus. Common passage migrant and winter visitor to river valleys, 
including suitable areas in the mountains, and Sarykamysh lake. Spring migration March- 
April, autumn September-October. 


32 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax. Common passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor to large rivers eg Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab, Tejen and Etrek. 
Spring migration from mid April and May, autumn in September-October. 

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer visitor, 
patchily distributed along Etrek, Sumbar, Murgab, Tejen and Amudar'ya rivers and 
Sarykamysh lake. Spring migration April, autumn September. 

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis. Very uncommon and irregular breeding summer visitor to Etrek and 
Tejen valleys and foothills of central Kopetdag. Occasionally seen Caspian shore. 

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea. Common passage migrant, uncommon winter visitor and scarce 
breeding summer visitor to river valleys and other wetlands. Spring migration March, 
autumn migration September-October. 

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea. Common passage migrant and scarce breeding summer visitor 
to large wetlands, winters irregularly in southern Turkmenistan. Spring migration March, 
autumn October-November. Less numerous than Great Egret and Grey Heron. 

Great Egret Casmerodius albus. Common passage migrant and winter visitor Sarykamysh 
lake, Amudar'ya and other large wetlands. Also breeds. Spring migration March, autumn 
October-November. 

Little Egret Egretta garzetta. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer visitor. Also 
winters along river valleys and foothills of Kopetdag. Spring migration mid March-end 
April, autumn October-November. 

Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus. Uncommon and threatened passage migrant 
and winter visitor to large river valleys, inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Also local 
breeding summer visitor with colonies on islands of Sarykamysh lake. Spring migration 
end February-early May, autumn end September-end November. RDBT category III (VU). 

Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus. Status similar to Great White Pelican though much 
scarcer. Breeds on islands of Sarykamysh lake and probably Soltansanjar reservoir. Spring 
migration second half February-early May, autumn second half August-early December. 
Included IUCN Red List (VU) and RDBT category II (EN). 

Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus. Passage migrant, breeding summer and winter 
visitor, most common in south and east, uncommon in west but numbers fluctuate from 
year to year. Occurs mainly Sarykamysh lake and the Amudar'ya but more recently 
along the Karakumdar'ya, Murgab and Tejen and in Kopetdag foothills, with smaller 
numbers along the Etrek and Caspian shore. Spring migration end March-April, autumn 
September-November. 

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo. Common locally numerous passage migrant, breeding 
summer visitor and winter visitor to wetlands of large river valleys, oases, deserts and 
Caspian shore. Spring migration mid February-early April, autumn end August-end 
October. 

Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni. Uncommon and threatened breeding summer visitor and 
passage migrant, with occasional winter records. Occurs widely along river valleys 
and foothills from the Caspian and lower reaches of the Etrek to Amudar'ya valley and 
Koytendag. Spring migration end March-first half April, autumn September-October. 
RDBT category III (VU). 

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus. Widespread and common passage migrant, breeding 
summer visitor and winter visitor, some individuals resident. Spring migration March- 
April, autumn September-October. Most numerous kestrel. 

Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus. Vagrant with two records—near Karabogazgol bay, 
Caspian, 1938 (Isakov 1940) and central Kopetdag (Gurykhovdan) 1986 (Efimenko 1989). 

Merlin Falco columbarius. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor, east at least as far as 
Tejen valley. Arrives October and departs March-April. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


33 


Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo. Uncommon breeding summer visitor and passage migrant 
to river valleys, foothills and mountains. Spring migration April, autumn September- 
October, occasionally until mid November. 

Laggar Falcon Falco jugger. Vagrant, with two records from foothills of eastern Kopetdag, 1946 
and 1955 (Dement'ev & Rustamov 1957). 

Saker Falcon Falco cherrug. Two subspecies occur. F. c. coatsi is resident, nominate cherrug is a 
passage migrant and winter visitor. Occurs widely in mountains and deserts, also along 
river valleys during migration. F. c. coatsi migrates altitudinally in autumn and winter, also 
dispersing along valleys. F. c. cherrug departs February-early March and returns October. 
Included in IUCN Red List (EN) and RDBT category III (VU). 

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus. Uncommon and threatened passage migrant and winter 
visitor, with some birds resident. Occurs in Bolshoy Balkhan, Kopetdag and Koytendag 
mountains, and during migration and in winter may also be seen along eastern shore of 
Caspian, in Kopetdag foothills and along river valleys. Arrives second half October and 
stays until end March. RDBT category III (VU) and population is decreasing. 

Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides. Nationally endangered and decreasing breeding summer 
visitor, passage migrant and scarce winter visitor. Distributed irregularly in mountains 
and foothills eg Kopetdag, Badkhyz, Koytendag and along river valleys during migration. 
Spring migration March, autumn end October-November. RDBT category II (EN). 

Osprey Pandion haliaetus. Uncommon and threatened passage migrant, though in recent years 
becoming uncommon winter visitor to southern Turkmenistan. Occurs all large wetlands 
from Caspian to Amudar'ya. Spring migration March-April, autumn September-October. 
RDBT category III (VU). 

European Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus. Status unclear but extremely uncommon being 
either a rare migrant or vagrant. 

Black Kite Milvus migrans. Uncommon though very widespread passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor, with some birds wintering. Can be locally common on migration. Migration 
periods extended, spring end February-early May, autumn end August-end October. 

Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus. Very uncommon and threatened passage migrant 
and winter visitor. Breeding unconfirmed though there are summer records. Wintering 
birds depart from second half February, with first autumn arrivals end September-October. 
Included in IUCN Red List and RDBT category III (VU). 

White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor, 
occasional in summer, mainly to coastal areas and inland wetlands including valleys of 
large rivers. Spring migration March-end April, autumn November. Numbers fluctuate 
during winter. 

Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus. Very uncommon, threatened and decreasing resident in 
mountainous areas including Bolshoy and Maliy Balkhan, Kopetdag, Badkhyz and 
Koytendag, also probably on Karabil' and Kubadag. RDBT category III (VU). 

Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus. Uncommon passage migrant and localised breeding 
summer visitor. Widespread during migration though avoids oases and barkan sands, and 
nests mostly in the mountainous regions and cliffs of north and northwest Turkmenistan. 
Arrives March and departs October. Population appears stable. Included in IUCN Red List 
and RDBT category II (EN). 

Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus. Uncommon breeding summer visitor, though some birds are 
resident but undertake nomadic movements. Occurs mainly in mountainous region from 
Bolshoy Balkhan east to Kopetdag, Badkhyz, Karabil' and Koytendag. Also recorded 
irregularly in Murgab and Amudar'ya valleys and sporadically from Karakum desert to 
Karabogazgol bay and surrounding areas. The majority of the population migrates south 
between November and May though in recent years, when winters have tended to be 
milder, some birds have remained on the breeding grounds. Potentially threatened by 
decreasing food supplies due to declines in populations of wild ungulates. 


34 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Himalayan Vulture Gyps himalayensis. Vagrant with two records, Koytendag May 2013 and 
May 2014. 

Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus. Uncommon, threatened and decreasing breeding 
summer visitor, though some birds are resident. Occurs in Bolshoy and Maliy Balkhan, 
Kopetdag, Koytendag, Badkhyz and Karabil', dispersing to other areas such as the 
Karakum. Arrives February and departs end October-November. Potentially threatened 
bv decreasing food supplies due to declines in populations of wild ungulates. Included in 
IUCN Red List (NT) and RDBT category III (VU). 

Short-toed Snake-eagle Circaetus gallicus. Widespread but decreasing passage migrant and 
breeding summer visitor found from the Karakum to mountainous regions, foothills and 
river valleys, though the species does not breed in the last of these. Arrives end of March 
and departs mid August-September. RDBT category IV. 

Western Marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus. Common breeding summer visitor, passage migrant 
and winter visitor occurring all types of wetlands from Caspian shore to the Amudar'ya 
and Sarykamysh lake. Spring migration second half of February and March, autumn 
September-October. Numbers increase during migration and in winter. 

Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus. Widespread passage migrant and winter visitor, locally 
common. Although not proven, breeding possible. Spring migration March-April, autumn 
October-November. More often recorded than Montagu's and Pallid Harriers. 

Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus. Uncommon, threatened but widespread passage migrant with 
some birds wintering, and found from lower reaches of the Etrek to the Amudar'ya. Spring 
migration end March-mid/late April, autumn end September-end November. Included in 
IUCN Red List (NT) and RDBT category III (VU). 

Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus. Uncommon but widespread passage migrant and 
winter visitor, and irregular breeding summer visitor, first confirmed 1989 (Karavaev 
1991b). Recorded from lower reaches of the Etrek, Kopetdag foothills and Tejen, Murgab, 
Karakumdar'ya and Amudar'ya valleys. Spring migration April, autumn end August-early 
November. More regularly recorded than Pallid Harrier but rarer than Northern Harrier. 

Shikra Accipiter badius. Common breeding summer visitor and passage migrant, with some 
birds wintering. Widely distributed apart from the upper mountain belt and treeless 
zones of deserts, preferring oases and valleys. Spring migration April, autumn migration 
September. 

Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes. Vagrant with two records, from lower reaches of the 
Etrek in the west. May, and Amudar'ya valley in the east, September (Dement'ev 1952). 

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus. Common and widespread passage migrant and 
winter visitor and uncommon breeding summer visitor to Kopetdag, Bolshoy Balkhan and 
Koytendag. Spring migration March-April, autumn end September-November. 

Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor mainly 
south and southwestern Turkmenistan. 

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo. Widespread but uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor, 
and scarce breeding summer visitor to Kopetdag. Spring migration March-April, autumn 
September-October. 

Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus. Resident, with some birds dispersing during the winter to 
oases or the south. Commonest large raptor. 

Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus. Very scarce autumn and winter visitor mainly to river 
valleys and oases. 

Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga. Very uncommon passage migrant, possibly wintering 
and even breeding. Occurs widely from Caspian shore to the Amudar'ya. Spring migration 
late March-April, autumn October-November. Included in IUCN Red List (VU) and RDBT 
category II (EN). 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


35 


Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis. Widespread passage migrant and winter visitor to southern 
Turkmenistan. Generally uncommon though can occur in flocks on migration. Spring 
migration March-early April, autumn September-October, occasionally early November. 
Numbers fluctuate in relation to rodent population. RDBT category IV. 

Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca. Widespread but threatened and decreasing passage 
migrant and winter visitor, possibly breeding irregularly in Tejen, Murgab and Amudar'ya 
tugays (riverine forests). Spring migration March-April, autumn October-November, 
mainly in southwestern Turkmenistan. Included in IUCN Red List and RDBT category III 
(VU). 

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos. Uncommon but widespread resident from Karabogazgol bay, 
Bolshov and Maliy Balkhan in west to Kopetdag, Badkhyz, Karabil' and Koytendag in the 
east, north to Ustyurt and irregularly in the Karakum. Some birds descend to the foothills 
during cold weather. RDBT category IV. 

Bonelli's Eagle Aquila fasciatus. Uncommon and threatened resident in Kopetdag, Badkhyz and 
Koytendag. A few birds disperse outside breeding season. RDBT category III (VU). 

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer visitor, 
though some birds are resident. Occurs in mountains of Bolshoy Balkhan, Kopetdag, 
western Badkhyz, Koytendag and tugay areas of the Murgab and Tejen valleys. Arrives 
April, occasionally March, and departs, and occurs as a migrant, September-October. 

Great Bustard Otis tarda. Uncommon to very uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor 
from Caspian shore and lower reaches of Etrek to Kopetdag foothills and large river valleys. 
Spring migration March and early April, autumn October and November. Included IUCN 
Red List (VU) and RDBT category I (CR). 

Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata. Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant, 
with small numbers wintering in southern Turkmenistan. The species has an irregular 
distribution throughout the plains. Autumn migration October-early November, spring 
from February. The population has decreased dramatically due to hunting pressure during 
the last 20 years. Included IUCN Red List and RDBT category III (VU). 

Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax. Uncommon passage migrant, mainly to oases, foothills, river 
valleys and the coast, and winter visitor to agricultural areas, especially in southern 
Turkmenistan. The species bred in Kopetdag until mid 20th century. Spring migration 
second half February-end of March, autumn end September-November. Included IUCN 
Red List (NT) and RDBT category IV. Population has been increasing since early 2000. 

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus. Common to locally numerous passage migrant, breeding summer 
visitor and winter visitor, with some birds probably resident. Occurs widely at wetlands 
throughout the country. Spring migration March-April, autumn September-October. 

Corncrake Crex crex. Widely distributed passage migrant from eastern Caspian shore to the 
Amudar'ya, though uncommon, especially in the east. Also an irregular and very rare 
summer visitor. Spring migration April-May, occasionally early June, autumn mid August- 
October. 

Little Crake Porzana parva. Uncommon passage migrant, breeding summer and winter visitor. 
Occurs along river valleys eg Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab, Tejen and Etrek, eastern 
Caspian shore and other wetlands. Spring migration March-May, autumn September-first 
half November. 

Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla. Widely distributed passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor, with some birds wintering. Occurs in the valleys of the Amudar'ya, Kakakumdar'ya, 
Murgab and Tejen, and the foothills of Kopetdag. Spring migration April-May, autumn 
September-October. Population size is unknown but probably higher than Little Crake. 

Spotted Crake Porzana porzana. Uncommon passage migrant, probably with small numbers 
wintering. Occurs at wetlands from the Caspian shore to the Amudar'ya. Spring migration 
mid March-end April, autumn September-October. 


36 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio. Scarce resident in Etrek valley, eastern Caspian shore and 
wetlands such as channels and discharge lakes in southern part of central Karakum desert. 
Also observed irregularly along the Murgab, Gushka and Amudar'ya rivers. The population 
has large fluctuations, especially after abnormally cold winters. RDBT category IV. 

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus. Common, locally numerous, and widespread breeding 
summer visitor, passage migrant and winter visitor, with some birds resident. Occurs 
from eastern Caspian shore to the Amudar'ya. Spring migration March-April, autumn 
September-November. 

Common Coot Fulica atra. Common to very common breeding summer visitor and passage 
migrant, with some birds resident. Widespread along large river valleys during breeding 
season, at other times can be found on Caspian shore, inland lakes and reservoirs. 

Siberian Crane Leucogeranus leucogeranus. Eleven records during the last 150 years (Rustamov 
& Saparmuradov 2010). Spring records March-early April, autumn end October-end 
November. Recorded from Tejen, Murgab, Karakumdar'ya and Amudar'ya valleys, and 
Kopetdag foothills, but could occur elsewhere. The species is near extinction and is 
included in IUCN Red Data List and RDBT category I (CR). 

Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo. Uncommon and irregular passage migrant to Amudar'ya, 
Murgab and Tejen valleys, Kopetdag foothills and possibly Caspian shore. Spring migration 
occurs later than Common Crane while autumn migration is earlier, though sometimes the 
species occur in mixed flocks. RDBT category IV. 

Common Crane Grus grus. Common, locally numerous, passage migrant and winter visitor 
to Amudar'ya and Karakumdar'ya valleys in southeastern Turkmenistan and foothills 
of eastern Kopetdag. Spring migration February-May, autumn migration end August- 
November. 

Eurasian Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor to plains and foothills. Spring migration end March-April, autumn migration end 
August-early November. 

Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus. Uncommon to locally common passage migrant, 
patchily distributed breeding summer visitor and irregular winter visitor to southern 
Turkmenistan. Occurs at inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring migration end March- 
early May, autumn August-November. 

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus. Common passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring migration end March-early May, 
autumn end August-November. 

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avocetta. Uncommon passage migrant, irregular breeding summer 
visitor and, in mild winters, irregular winter visitor. Occurs at inland wetlands and 
Caspian shore. Spring migration second half March-early May, summer visitors present 
June-July, autumn migration second half August-November. 

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus. Uncommon to common passage migrant and irregular 
summer and winter visitor to inland wetlands, oases and Caspian shore. Spring migration 
second half March-May, summer visitors June, autumn migration second half August- 
November. 

Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus. Uncommon breeding summer visitor to Tejen, Murgab 
and Gushka valleys from the Amudar'ya valley west to the Caspian. Arrives mid March- 
April, departs August. 

Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius. Precise status unknown but considered to be a patchily 
distributed, uncommon and irregular passage migrant and summer visitor. Spring 
migration March-April, in summer it may occur irregularly July-August, autumn 
migration September-October. The species is under threat of extinction and is included in 
IUCN Red List and RDBT category I (CR). 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 37 


White-tailed Lapwing Vanellus leucurus. Uncommon passage migrant, breeding summer 
visitor and irregular winter visitor to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring migration 
March, autumn September. 

Eurasian Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria. Uncommon passage migrant to Caspian shore and 
inland wetlands. Spring migration end March-May, autumn September-October. 

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva. Very scarce passage migrant, irregular recorded from 
Caspian shore and inland wetlands. 

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola. Uncommon passage migrant and irregular winter and summer 
visitor to Caspian shore and inland wetlands. Spring migration March-early May, autumn 
end August-November. 

Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula. Uncommon but widely distributed passage 
migrant to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Some winter. Spring migration March- 
April, autumn end August-November. 

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius. Common to locally numerous passage migrant and 
breeding summer visitor to Caspian shore and inland wetlands. Spring migration end 
March-early May, autumn migration mid August-October. 

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus. Common to locally numerous passage migrant and 
breeding summer visitor, with some birds wintering. Occurs along Caspian shore and at 
other wetlands. Spring migration March-April, autumn end August-November. 

Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus. Vagrant, with two records from Caspian shore, 1975 
and 1977 (Karavaev & Belousov 1982). 

Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii. Uncommon to locally common passage migrant, 
breeding summer and winter visitor. Widespread but most numerous on Caspian shore 
and in foothills of western Turkmenistan. Spring migration March-April, autumn August- 
November. 

Caspian Plover Charadrius asiaticus. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer visitor 
Caspian shore and other wetlands. Spring migration April-early May, autumn end August- 
November. 

Eurasian Dotterel Eudromias morinellus. Uncommon passage migrant Caspian shore and inland 
wetlands. 

Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor to forest- 
scrub habitats on Caspian shore, river valleys, oases and along mountain rivers. Spring 
migration end March-May, autumn September-November. 

Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus. Uncommon passage migrant and irregular winter visitor, 
with singles recorded December-February in mild winters. Occurs inland wetlands and 
Caspian shore. Spring migration mid March-mid May, autumn September-October with 
late migrants November. 

Solitary Snipe Gallinago solitaria. Very scarce and irregular winter visitor to mountain springs 
(Shestoperov 1937), especially in Kopetdag (Dement'ev 1952) and possibly Koytendag. 

Great Snipe Gallinago media. Very scarce passage migrant to inland wetlands and Caspian 
shore, with occasional records winter. Spring migration end March-mid May, autumn 
August-October. 

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago. Uncommon passage migrant and irregular winter visitor, 
with single birds or small flocks recorded December-February in mild winters. Occurs at 
inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring migration March-May, irregular records June- 
August, autumn migration end August-November. 

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. Uncommon passage migrant and irregular winter and 
summer visitor to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring migration March-May, 
irregular June-August, with wintering birds during mild winters December-February. 


38 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica. Uncommon passage migrant and irregular summer visitor 
to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring migration end March-May, irregular June- 
August, autumn migration September-November. 

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus. Uncommon passage migrant and summer visitor to inland 
wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring migration April-early June, summer visitors present 
July, autumn migration August-October with late birds November. 

Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris. Not included in avifauna check list (Dement'ev 
1952) and no confirmed records though vagrants possible (Rustamov 2013). Included in 
IUCN Red List (CR) but possibly now extinct. 

Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata. Passage migrant, summer visitor and irregular winter 
visitor during mild winters to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring migration 
mid March-May, summer visitors June-early August, autumn migration end August- 
November. 

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus. Uncommon passage migrant, summer visitor and 
irregular winter visitor in mild winters to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring 
migration mid March-May, summer visitors June-August, autumn migration end August- 
November. 

Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor. Uncommon breeding summer visitor distributed 
from Badkhyz and Murgab valley west to the Kopetdag foothills, Krasnovodsk plateau 
and Karabogazgol bay. Arrives end March-April, departs mid September-October. RDBT 
category IV. 

Common Redshank Tringa totanus. Uncommon to locally common passage migrant and 
summer and winter visitor to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Possibly breeds. 
Spring migration end February-early June, summering birds June-early August, autumn 
migration mid August-November. 

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis. Uncommon passage migrant and summer visitor, and 
irregular winter visitor during mild winters to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring 
migration March-May, summering birds June-early August, autumn migration end 
August-November. 

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia. Uncommon passage migrant and irregular summer 
and winter visitor during mild winters to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring 
migration mid March-May, summering birds June-early August, autumn migration end 
August-September with late migrants into November. 

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus. Uncommon to locally common passage migrant and summer 
visitor, and irregular winter visitor during mild winters to inland wetlands and Caspian 
shore. Potentially occasional breeder. Spring migration second half March-May, summer 
June-early August, autumn migration end August-November. 

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola. Uncommon to locally common passage migrant and summer 
visitor to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Main spring migration April-early May, 
occasionally March-early June, summer end June-early July, autumn migration end June- 
September occasionally October or even November. 

Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus. Very scarce passage migrant to Caspian shore and sporadically 
to inland wetlands. Spring migration end March-May, autumn end August-November. 

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring migration mid March-end May, 
autumn migration end August-November. 

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres. Uncommon passage migrant and summer visitor mostly 
to Caspian shore and inland wetlands. Spring migration mid April and May, summer June- 
July, autumn migration early August-November 

Red Knot Calidris canutus. Very rare passage migrant and summer visitor to Caspian shore 
(first record 1976, Karavaev & Belousov 1982) and possibly occurs at other large wetlands. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


39 


Sanderling Calidris alba. Uncommon passage migrant and irregular winter visitor patchily 
distributed at inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring migration April-May, late 
migrants to June, autumn migration September-November. Single birds and small flocks 
can occur December-February during mild winters. 

Little Stint Calidris minuta. Uncommon passage migrant, summer visitor and irregular winter 
visitor during mild winters, mostly at inland wetlands, rarely along Caspian shore though 
can be locally numerous. Spring migration mid March-early June, occasionally July, 
autumn migration August-November. 

Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii. Scarce passage migrant to inland wetlands and Caspian 
shore. Spring migration, when more numerous, end March-May, autumn end July-October. 

Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima. Vagrant, particularly Caspian shore, first recorded 
1971/1972 (Scherbina 2013). 

Dunlin Calidris alpina. Common passage migrant, especially Caspian shore, and summer and 
winter visitor. Wintering birds depart and spring migration commences mid March-end 
May, summer birds June-July, autumn migration August-November. 

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea. Uncommon passage migrant and summer visitor 
Caspian shore and scattered inland wetlands. Spring migration March-May, autumn 
August-early October. 

Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus. Uncommon passage migrant Caspian shore and 
rarely inland wetlands. Spring migration April-May, autumn end August-early October. 

Ruff Philomachus pugnax. Uncommon passage migrant and summer visitor inland wetlands 
and Caspian shore. Spring migration March-May, summer June-July, autumn migration 
August-early October. 

Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus. Common, and in some years numerous, passage 
migrant and irregular summer visitor to inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring 
migration early April-early June, summer July, autumn migration end August-October, 
rarely November. 

Red Phalarope Phalaropus fidicarius. Very scarce passage migrant and irregular summer and 
winter visitor Caspian shore (Dement'ev 1952, Scherbina 2013). 

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor to open areas near inland wetlands and Caspian shore. Spring, migration end 
March-early May, autumn end August-October. 

Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni. Very scarce passage migrant to inland wetlands 
and Caspian shore. IUCNRed List (NT). 

Mew Gull Lams canus. Passage migrant to wetlands throughout Turkmenistan and winter 
visitor Caspian shore where it can be common though numbers fluctuate annually. Winter 
departure and spring migration February-March, autumn migration end September- 
November, wintering birds arrive early December onwards. 

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus. Vagrant, with two records—a first winter between 
Guvlymayak and Guvly, Caspian shore 1 October 2008, and one northwest of Turkmenbashi 
4 and 23 December 2008 (Scherbina 2013). 

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans. Common, locally numerous, passage migrant, breeding 
summer and winter visitor, with some birds on Caspian shore resident. Also present large 
wetlands throughout Turkmenistan. Dispersal and spring migration March-April, autumn 
September-October. Breeding population eastern part of Caspian dramatically decreased 
during last two decades due to disturbance. 

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus. Vagrant, with three museum specimens in zoological 
collections—collected from Caspian sea 1891 (Zarudny 1896), 1935 (Isakov & Vorob'ev 1940) 
and 1972 (Scherbina 2013). 


40 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Pallas's Gull Lams ichthyaetus. Uncommon passage migrant, local breeding summer visitor 
Ogurjaly island (Caspian) and Sarykamysh lake (north Turkmenistan) and winter visitor 
Caspian shore, though can occur at inland wetlands during dispersal and migration. Spring 
migration March-April, autumn July-August. Caspian population decreased during last 
two decades due to disturbance. Included in first edition of RDBT (Rustamov 1985) and 
recommended for inclusion in new edition as species with decreasing population. 

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus. Common, locally numerous, passage migrant, winter 
and summer visitor to river valleys, lakes, reservoirs and Caspian shore. Winter departure 
and spring migration February-April, late migrants May, summering birds June-August, 
autumn migration September-November, and wintering birds from December. 

Slender-billed Gull Lams genei. Uncommon to locally common passage migrant, breeding 
summer visitor and irregular winter visitor mainly to Caspian shore, rarely at inland 
wetlands. Winter departure and spring migration from early March, breeding birds present 
end April-mid July, autumn migration end August-November. 

Mediterranean Gull Lams melanocephalus. Vagrant, recorded irregularly Caspian shore. First 
record 1977 (Karavaev 1991b). 

Little Gull Lams minutus. Uncommon passage migrant and irregular winter visitor Caspian 
shore. Spring migration mid April-May, autumn August-September. 

Ross's Gull Rhodostethia rosea. Vagrant, with one record, a bird at Sarykamysh lake 21 April 
1988 (Antipov et al 1994). 

Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica. Passage migrant and uncommon breeding summer visitor 
in varying numbers along eastern Caspian shore and Sarykamysh lake. Spring migration 
April-May, autumn August-September. 

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia. Passage migrant and uncommon localised breeding summer visitor 
to islands of eastern Caspian and Sarykamysh lake. Spring migration mid March-April, 
autumn September. 

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis. Breeding summer visitor islands of eastern Caspian. Spring 
migration March-April, autumn August-September. The population has dramatically 
decreased during the last two decades due to disturbance. Recommended for inclusion in 
RDBT. 

Common Tern Sterna hirundo. Common passage migrant and breeding summer visitor to 
wetlands throughout. Spring migration April-May, autumn August-September. Breeding 
population of eastern part Caspian has dramatically decreased during last two decades due 
to disturbance. 

Little Tern Sterna albifrons. Uncommon but widely distributed passage migrant and local 
summer visitor breeding Caspian shore and Sarykamysh lake. Spring migration end 
April-May, autumn August-September. Breeding population of eastern part Caspian has 
dramatically decreased during last two decades due to disturbance. 

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida. Uncommon to locally common passage migrant and 
breeding summer visitor along major river valleys and Caspian shore. Spring migration 
from mid April, autumn from end August-September. 

White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus. Uncommon passage migrant river valleys and 
freshwater wetlands. Spring migration April-May, autumn August-September. 

Black Tern Chlidonias niger. Uncommon to locally common passage migrant and probable 
breeding summer visitor river valleys and Caspian shore. Spring migration April-May, 
autumn September. 

Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus. Uncommon scattered migrant with 1-2 birds recorded 
on four occasions Caspian shore 1973-2001 (Khokhlov 1995, Scherbina 2013). 

Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus. Uncommon, scattered migrant and summer visitor 
eastern Caspian. Also recorded Sarykamysh lake 22 April 1985, 4 April 1987 (Antipov et al 
1994). 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


41 


Long-tailed Jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus. Uncommon, scattered migrant and summer visitor 
with 1-3 birds recorded on six occasions Caspian shore 1997-2008 (Scherbina 2013). 

Pallas's Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes paradoxus. Sporadic visitor undergoing periodic irruptive 
movements, mostly in spring and autumn, irregularly in winter. Can occur anywhere. 
Generally uncommon but can be common to locally numerous in some years. 

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata. Common breeding summer visitor with some birds 
also present in winter. Widely distributed but prefers sand desert. Spring migration March, 
autumn end October-end November. Autumn migration is very noticeable, especially 
Kopetdag foothills, where the species can be very numerous for short periods. 

Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus. Vagrant, with single bird Amudar'ya valley near 
Turkmenistan/Afghanistan border 1889 (Zarudny 1910). 

Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis. Common to locally numerous passage migrant, 
breeding summer visitor and winter visitor to plains throughout but avoids barkhans, 
large wetlands and oases. Main breeding distribution northwestern Turkmenistan while 
wintering areas are in south and southwest. Migration concentrates Kopetdag foothills. 
Arrives March and first part of April, autumn migration September-October. 

Rock Pigeon Columba livia. Common to locally numerous resident, widely distributed 
throughout Turkmenistan. 

Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris. Vagrant, which may occur Koytendag and eastern Kopetdag 
(Efimenko 1989, Rustamov 2011). 

Stock Dove Columba oenas. Uncommon passage migrant and probable breeding summer 
visitor, with some birds recorded winter. Widely distributed on migration but especially 
Amudar'ya valley. Arrives end February-early March, autumn migration September- 
October. 

Pale-backed Pigeon Columba eversmanni. Uncommon and threatened passage migrant and 
breeding summer visitor major river valleys, especially Tejen, Murgab and Amudar'ya. 
Arrives second half March-early April, autumn migration September-October. Included 
IUCN Red List and RDBT category III (VU). 

Common Wood-pigeon Columba palumbus. Breeding summer visitor Kopetdag and Koytendag, 
and uncommon to locally common widespread passage migrant mostly along river valleys. 
Arrives February, earlier in mild winters. 

European Turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur. Widespread passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor most areas, common on migration but breeding population has declined in recent 
decades. Arrives end April-early May, autumn migration end August-September. 

Oriental Turtle-dove Streptopelia orientalis. Uncommon passage migrant and probable breeding 
summer visitor Koytendag. Occurs widely on migration especially Amudar'ya valley. 

Eurasian Collared-dove Streptopelia decaocto. Common resident, first recorded Gushka valley 
middle of the last century but now found throughout Turkmenistan from the Amudar'ya 
to Caspian. Commonest south and east, less common in west. Large flocks can be found 
autumn/winter. 

Laughing Dove Stigmatopelia senegalensis. Common. Locally numerous, resident synanthropic 
species occurring widely from river and mountain valleys, foothills, oases, deserts to large 
cities and small settlements. Spread of the species limited by predation by Magpies in the 
Amudar'ya and Murgab valleys, and by Hooded Crows in Kopetdag foothills. 

Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius. Vagrant, with one record from Gushka river valley 
in southern Turkmenistan 1954 (Sukhinin 1956). 

Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer visitor. 
Widespread during migration but restricted to valleys and oases as a breeding species. 
Arrives end of April/early May, departs from middle of July with the main autumn 
migration September. 


42 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus. Irregular scarce passage migrant Amudar'ya and 
Murgab valleys (Dement'ev 1952). 

Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus. Vagrant, with one record mid Amudar'ya valley 1910 
(Zarudny 1914). 

Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus. Vagrant, with one record Koitendar'ya valley, southeast 
Turkmenistan, May 2013. 

Barn Owl Tyto alba. Vagrant, with two records—near Essenguly, southwest Turkmenistan, 1942 
(Dement'ev 1952) and central Kopetdag 1983 (Sopyev et al 1988). 

Pallid Scops-owl Otus brucei. Uncommon breeding summer visitor Amudar'ya, Murgab and 
Tejen valleys and parts of Kopetdag foothills. Arrives end March-April, departs early 
September. 

Common Scops-owl Otus scops. Common passage migrant and numerous breeding summer 
visitor Bolshoy Balkhan, Kopetdag and Koytendag mountains. Spring migration April, 
autumn September. 

Snowy Owl Bubo scandiaca. Extremely scarce winter visitor, recorded irregularly in abnormally 
cold winters. Most records from the plains. 

Eurasian Eagle-owl Bubo bubo. Uncommon and patchily distributed resident throughout 
Turkmenistan, but only in unpopulated regions. 

Tawny Owl Strix aluco. Uncommon local resident restricted to western Kopetdag and 
Koytendag. 

Little Owl Athene noctua. Common and widespread resident mountain areas up to 2500 m asl. 

Long-eared Owl Asio otus. Uncommon though widespread passage migrant and breeding 
summer and winter visitor along river valleys, oases and foothills. Spring migration 
March-April, autumn October-November. 

Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus. Uncommon patchily distributed passage migrant and winter 
visitor. Spring migration March-early April, autumn October. 

Eurasian Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus. Uncommon but widely distributed passage migrant 
and breeding summer visitor river and mountain valleys, plains, foothills and oases, less 
frequently in deserts. Arrives mid April and departs end August and September. 

Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius. Uncommon, but less numerous than Eurasian 
Nightjar, passage migrant and breeding summer visitor, widely but patchily distributed. 
Prefers deserts and avoids mountains. Arrives second half April, departs September. 

Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer visitor 
Kopetdag, Koytendag and other mountains. 

Common Swift Apus apus. Numerous passage migrant and breeding summer visitor occurring 
widely but preferring river valleys, oases and settlements. Spring migration mid March- 
mid April, autumn July-August, though breeding birds depart early. 

Little Swift Apus affinis. Uncommon breeding summer visitor to mountains in Badkhvz 
(Gyazgedyk) and Koytendag. Arrives April, departs August. 

European Roller Coracias garrulus. Passage migrant and breeding summer visitor found 
mainly southern and eastern Turkmenistan, preferring river valleys and oases. Spring 
migration from second half April, autumn August-September. Included IUCN Red List 
(NT) but this relates to the European subspecies which is found along the Caspian shore 
and neighbouring areas (Isakov & Vorob'ev 1940). C. g. semenovi occupies the other parts of 
Turkmenistan where it is common and even numerous in some places. 

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis. Uncommon resident with scattered distribution along 
Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab, Tejen, Etrek and Sumbar rivers and, occasionally, 
small rivers in Kopetdag. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 43 


Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus. Common, locally numerous, passage migrant and 
breeding summer visitor. Widely distributed during migration but prefers foothills and 
oases for breeding. Arrives second half April, departs August-early September. 

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster. Common, locally numerous passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor occurring widely but preferring foothills and oases for breeding. Spring 
migration second half April-mid May, autumn mid August-October. 

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer visitor, 
small numbers in winter. Widely distributed but more numerous on plains than in 
mountains. Spring migration early March, autumn September. 

Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla. Uncommon passage migrant. Widely distributed but 
especially found mountain and river valleys, foothills and oases. 

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major and Eurasian Green Woodpecker Pious viridis. 
Both species formerly inhabited southwestern Kopetdag but there have been no records 
since 1980 (Bukreev 1997, Khodjamuradov & Rustamov 2010). These species now appear 
extinct locally but vagrants from Iran may possibly be encountered in ravine forests. 

White-winged Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucopterus. Uncommon resident recorded irregularly 
in the Karakum, western Uzboy, Tejen, Murgab and Amudar'ya valleys and possibly in 
Koytendag. 

Scaly-bellied Woodpecker Pious squamatus. Formerly inhabited Murgab tugays, between 
Dashkepri and Sultanbent, until mid 20th century. Recommended for inclusion in RDBT 
with the suggestion that birds from Afghanistan and Pakistan, if it still occurs there, 
could be introduced to protected areas of tugay along the Amudar'ya, Murgab and Tejen 
(Dement'ev 1952, Rustamov 1985). 

Red-backed Shrike Lanins collurio. Widespread but uncommon passage migrant. Spring 
migration May, autumn August-September. 

Rufous-tailed Shrike Lanins isabellinus. Scarce passage migrant, mostly in south and east, with 
occasional winter records in south of Turkmenistan. Spring migration end February-April, 
autumn August-September. 

Turkestan Shrike Lanins phoenicuroides. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor with patchy distribution mainly in mountains and foothills but also river valleys 
and to a lesser extent deserts. Spring migration April, autumn September-October. 

Bay-backed Shrike Lanins vittatus. Uncommon breeding summer visitor with very restricted 
distribution southern Turkmenistan eg eastern Kopetdag, western Badkhyz, Gushka valley, 
Koytendag. Arrives mid April, departs August. 

Long-tailed Shrike Lanins schach. Uncommon and patchily distributed breeding summer 
visitor to mountains and foothills of Kopetdag and Koytendag, along river valleys and, 
irregularly, west to the Caspian (Karavaev 1979, Khokhlov 1995, Scherbina 2013). Arrives 
April-May, departs August-September. 

Lesser Grey Shrike Lanins minor. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer visitor 
Kopetdag foothills and mountains, western Badkhyz, Koytendag and river valleys, being 
most numerous at higher elevations. Spring migration from mid April-May, autumn in 
August-September. 

Great Grey Shrike Lanins excubitor. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor, widely 
distributed from the mountains to the plains, including oases. Spring migration March- 
mid April, autumn September-October. 

Southern Grey Shrike Lanins meridionalis. Breeding summer visitor, with small numbers 
winter, and more numerous than the preceding species. Occurs plains eg Karakum and 
other deserts and semi-deserts but avoids large oases during nesting period. Arrives 
March, departs August-September. 


44 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Woodchat Shrike Lanins senator. Vagrant, with two records—foothills of Kurendag range 
(northwestern Kopetdag) in 1970 (Mischenko & Scherbak 1980) and Soimonova bay, 
Caspian, 2009 (Scherbina 2013). 

Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus. Very scarce migrant, possibly breeding. Recorded Amudar'ya 
and Murgab valleys, Badkhyz and elsewhere. First observed in western Turkmenistan, 
along the Caspian shore, 2009 (Scherbina 2013). 

Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus. Uncommon passage migrant and scarce breeding 
summer visitor recorded along the Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab, Tejen and Etrek, 
at scattered locations of the Caspian basin, Bolshoy Balkhan, Kopetdag and its foothills, 
Badkhyz and Koytendag. Spring migration April-May, autumn August. 

Asian Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi. Uncommon and local breeding summer visitor 
Koytendag (Efimenko 2006). One extralimital pair central Kopetdag (Efimenko 1989). 
Arrives end April, departs mid August-mid September. Included RDBT, category IV. 

Black-billed Magpie Pica pica. Common resident though patchily distributed Kopetdag, 
Koytendag, Badkhyz, river valleys, Uzboy, Sarykamysh lake and Caspian shore. 

Turkestan Ground-jay Podoces panderi. Uncommon resident Karakum, Chil'mamedkum and 
Uchtagankum. 

Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax. Uncommon resident patchily distributed 
mountains and foothills eg Badkhyz and KarabiF. 

Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus. Vagrant, with birds recorded central Kopetdag 1884,1892 
(Zarudny 1896) and 1986 (Efimenko 1989). 

Eurasian Jackdaw Corvns monedula. Passage migrant, breeding summer visitor and scarce 
winter visitor. Patchily distributed, mainly mountainous areas eg Bolshoy and Maliy 
Balkhan, Kopetdag, Badkhyz, Karabil', Koytendag, but also Amudar'ya, Murgab, Gushka, 
Tejen, Sumbar, Chandyr and Etrek valleys and Uzboy. 

Rook Corvns frugilegus. Common to numerous passage migrant and winter visitor in large 
flocks at some localities, and common breeding resident in lower reaches of the Amudar'ya. 
Occurs oases and river valleys, foothills of Kopetdag and even deserts during migration. 
Spring migration March, autumn October. 

Carrion Crow Corvns corone. Uncommon local resident and nomadic migrant found along large 
river valleys and Koytendag. 

Hooded Crow Corvns cornix. Common passage migrant and winter visitor, with some birds 
resident Kopetdag mountains. Occurs widely on migration but prefers foothills and 
river valleys. Spring migration March, autumn October. Numbers have been increasing 
Kopetdag as birds have colonised foothills. 

Brown-necked Raven Corvns ruficollis. Uncommon resident of Caspian basin, Karakum, 
Saragamysh lake, along the Amudar'ya and Karakumdar'ya (occasional), Bolshoy and 
Maliy Balkhan, and more numerous in foothills of Kopetdag, Badkhyz and KarabiF. 

Common Raven Corvns corax. Uncommon resident and nomadic migrant all mountain areas 
and also in Badkhyz and KarabiF. 

Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus. Widely distributed nomadic migrant and winter 
visitor, with numbers varying from year to year related to food supply (berries). Prefers 
valleys and oases. Usually arrives late November/December and stays until April or even 
mid May. 

Grey Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus. Uncommon and local breeding summer visitor 
in varying numbers only found in the valleys of the Tejen (in the vicinity of Gannaly 
settlement), Gushka and Murgab (Saryyazy settlement). Included RDBT, category IV. 

White-throated Dipper Cinclns cinclus. Vagrant, not included in the Birds of Turkmenistan 
(Dement'ev 1952), and first recorded Shorlok river, central Kopetdag, December 1986 
(Efimenko 1989). 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


45 


Dark-grey Tit Pams rufonuchalis. Uncommon local resident and nomadic migrant Koytendag. 

Coal Tit Pams ater. Local resident Kopetdag undertaking short nomadic movements during 
autumn/winter. Occurs 1500-1600 m asl in central and eastern Kopetdag, rarely higher, but 
nests below 1500 m western Kopetdag. 

Great Tit Pams major. Common resident southwestern Kopetdag. 

Turkestan Tit Pams bokharensis. Common resident Karakum and foothill oases of Kopetdag, 
western Badkhyz and Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab and Tejen valleys. 

Turkestan Grey Tit Pams cinereus. Local resident Kopetdag. Uncommon though still more 
numerous than other tits which occur in mountains. 

Blue Tit Pams caemleus. Uncommon resident western and central parts Kopetdag. Sometimes 
occurs foothills in winter. 

Azure Tit Pams cyanus. Uncommon resident and nomadic migrant only found Koytendag. 

Yellow-breasted Tit Pams flavipectus. Uncommon resident and nomadic migrant only found 
Koytendag. 

Eurasian Penduline-tit Remiz pendulinus. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor, and 
local breeding summer visitor to the Etrek and lower reaches of Tejen and Murgab. Occurs 
mainly in tugays along river valleys but may be encountered in other habitats. 

White-crowned Penduline-tit Remiz coronatus. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor 
and breeds Sarykamysh lake and along Amudar'ya. Winters Amudar'ya and other large 
river valleys. 

Black-headed Penduline-tit Remiz macronyx. Status uncertain but appears to be uncommon 
passage migrant and winter visitor, most frequently recorded Murgab, Tejen and Amudar'ya 
valleys. 

Sand Martin Riparia riparia. Common but patchily distributed passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor mainly to river valleys and oases. Spring migration from end March, 
autumn in October. 

Pale Sand Martin Riparia diluta. Passage migrant and breeding summer visitor at scattered 
localities mainly eastern Turkmenistan. Less numerous than Sand Martin. 

Eurasian Crag-martin Hirundo mpestris. Common passage migrant though some birds resident 
but undertake nomadic movements. Occurs steep-sided valleys and ravines in Bolshoy and 
Maliy Balkhan, Kopetdag and Koytendag. Arrives April, departs August. 

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica. Common and widespread passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor, especially Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab, Tejen and Etrek valleys 
and oases. Localised breeding population decreased during last decade. Spring migration 
March-April, autumn end September-mid October. 

Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii. Scarce and local breeding summer visitor Gushka 
(Sukhinin 1956) and Koitendar'ya valleys. Arrives April-May, departs September-October. 

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica. Uncommon and local breeding summer visitor 
Koytendag, though may be encountered elsewhere as passage migrant. Arrives April, 
departs August. 

Northern House-martin Delichon urbicum. Common passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor mountainous regions eg Bolshoy and Maliy Balkhan, Kopetdag and Koytendag. Also 
occurs plains after breeding season. Spring migration March-April, autumn September. 

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus. Uncommon resident and nomadic migrant southwestern 
Kopetdag. 

Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra. Common to locally numerous resident and nomadic 
migrant mainly in foothills, lower and middle belts of Kopetdag, Badkhyz, Karabil', 
foothills of Koytendag and lower reaches of Etrek river. It may concentrate in large flocks 
during winter. 


46 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculata. Common to locally numerous passage migrant 
and breeding summer visitor, with some birds present winter. Occurs both northwestern 
and southwestern Turkmenistan eg foothills and mountains of Bolshoy and Maliy Balkhan, 
Kopetdag, KarabiT and Koytendag, and also south Ustyurt. Spring migration April, 
autumn second half October and November. 

White-winged Lark Melanocorypha leucoptera. Common to locally numerous passage migrant, 
breeding summer visitor and nomadic migrant. Large flocks early November-March. 

Black Lark Melanocorypha yeltoniensis. Irregular visitor from Kazakhstan to northern 
Turkmenistan (Rustamov 1958) south as far as Krasnovodsky peninsula and Bolshoy 
Balkhan mountain (Scherbina 2013). 

Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti. Common resident gently rolling landscapes, foothills and 
mountains though undertakes nomadic migrations. Occurs from south Ustyurt and eastern 
shore Caspian to Kopetdag, Badkhyz, Karabil and Koytendag. 

Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla. Common, locally numerous passage migrant, 
breeding summer visitor and winter visitor to plains throughout Turkmenistan, but avoids 
barkhans and vegetated valleys and oases. 

Hume's Lark Calandrella acutirostris. Very scarce and localized summer breeding visitor 
Badkhyz, Karabil' and Koytendag, usually found in dry foothills and lower elevations of 
mountains. 

Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens. As Greater Short-toed Lark— passage migrant, 
breeding summer and winter visitor to clay and silt plains and foothills throughout 
Turkmenistan. 

Asian Short-toed Lark Calandrella cheleensis . Very scarce passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor found on solonchaks (salt marsh type areas) and similar desert areas of the 
mid Amudar'ya. Probably also occurs north and west border zone with Kazakhstan. 

Crested Lark Galerida cristata. Common to locally numerous resident of deserts, semi-deserts, 
mountains (up to 1500-1600 m asl), river valleys and oases. Sometimes undertakes local 
nomadic migrations. 

Wood Lark Lullula arborea. Uncommon resident Bolshoy Balkhan and Kopetdag. 

Eurasian Skylark Alanda arvensis. Common passage migrant, uncommon breeding summer 
visitor and locally abundant winter visitor to plains, foothills and oases. Breeds Bolshoy 
Balkan and Kopetdag. Spring migration February-April, autumn October-November. 

Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula. Common and widely distributed passage migrant and 
breeding summer visitor to foothills of Kopetdag, Koytendag, Badkhyz, Karabil', and along 
the Etrek, Tejen, Murgab and Amydar'ya valleys. Most numerous in river valleys. 

Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris. Uncommon resident undertaking local nomadic movements 
autumn/winter. Occurs Karabogazgol basin, Krasnovodsky peninsula (scattered), Bolshoy 
and Maliy Balkhan, Kopetdag and Badkhyz. 

Streaked Scrub-warbler Scotocerca inquieta. Widely distributed common resident and nomadic 
migrant of deserts and foothills. 

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti. Uncommon and patchily distributed breeding summer visitor 
Kopetdag and Tejen, Murgab and Amudar'ya valleys. 

Common Grasshopper-warbler Locustella naevia. Uncommon passage migrant in well- 
vegetated river valleys eg meadows, wet glades with tall grass, bushes and reeds. Spring 
migration April and first half May, autumn second half September and October. 

Eurasian River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis. Scarce passage migrant river valleys, lake shores 
and other wetlands. Spring migration late March and April, autumn September-mid 
October . 

Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinioides. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor to Etrek, Murgab, Tejen and Amudar'ya valleys, arriving early April. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


47 


Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon. Scarce to locally common passage migrant and 
breeding summer visitor. Occurs in mountain and river valleys. Spring migration March- 
April, autumn September-October. 

Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus. Scarce passage migrant, with scattered distribution, 
mainly to river valleys and oases. Spring migration April-May, autumn October and first 
half November. 

Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola. Common passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor Tejen, Murgab, Karakumdar'ya and Amudar'ya valleys. Spring migration April- 
May, autumn August-September. 

Eurasian Reed-warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus. Common passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor large river valleys and oases. Spring migration April-May, autumn late 
August-late October. 

Blyth's Reed-warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum. Common passage migrant to river valleys 
throughout and breeding summer visitor foothills and mountains of Kopetdag. Spring 
migration end April-May, autumn end August-September. 

Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris. Uncommon passage migrant mainly to river valleys and 
oases. Spring migration April-May, autumn September and early October. 

Great Reed-warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus. Common passage migrant to river valleys, lake 
shores, reservoirs and small water bodies. 

Clamorous Reed-warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus. Common to locally numerous passage 
migrant and breeding summer visitor to reedbeds along large and small river valleys. 
Spring migration April-May, autumn August-October. 

Booted Warbler Hippolais caligata. Numerous passage migrant and breeding summer visitor 
northern and eastern Turkmenistan. Spring migration April-May, autumn August-October. 

Sykes's Warbler Hippolais rama. Widely distributed numerous passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor. Spring migration April-May, autumn August-October. 

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais pallida. Common passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor to plains, including large river valleys. Spring migration second half April, autumn 
August-September. 

Upcher's Warbler Hippolais languida. Widely distributed common passage migrant and 
breeding summer visitor. Spring migration April-May, autumn September-October. 

Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina. Widely distributed common passage migrant, especially 
valleys and oases. Spring migration April-May, autumn August-September. 

Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus. Scarce passage migrant to variety of habitats but mainly 
foothills and river and mountain valleys. Spring migration March-April, autumn October. 

Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita. Common passage migrant to plains and uncommon 
breeding summer visitor Kopetdag arriving end April. 

Plain Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus neglectus. Uncommon breeding summer visitor Kopetdag and 
Koytendag. 

Sulphur-bellied Warbler Phylloscopus griseolus. Uncommon and local breeding summer visitor 
Koytendag. 

Inornate Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus. Rare passage migrant mainly eastern Turkmenistan eg 
Amudar'ya. Spring migration March, autumn October. 

Hume's Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus humei. Irregular passage migrant, recorded Koytendag and 
several locations along upper reaches of the Amudar'ya. 

Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides. Widely distributed but uncommon passage migrant. 
Spring migration April, autumn September-October. 


48 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla. Scarce passage migrant in variety of habitats throughout. Spring 
migration April-May, autumn end August-September. 

Garden Warbler Sylvia borin. Scarce passage migrant found in variety of habitats throughout. 
Spring migration April, autumn mid August-September. 

Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis. Common passage migrant plains and mountains 
throughout, and breeding summer visitor to mountains of southern Turkmenistan eg 
Kopetdag, eastern Badkhyz, Koytendag. Spring migration from mid April, autumn from 
mid August-September. 

Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca. Common passage migrant and breeding summer visitor, 
widely distributed but most numerous plains. Spring migration from end March, autumn 
from mid August. 

Hume's Whitethroat Sylvia althaea. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer visitor 
Bolshoy Balkhan, Kopetdag and Koytendag. Spring migration April, autumn September. 

Desert Warbler Sylvia nana. Common passage migrant and uncommon breeding summer 
visitor to desert plains. Spring migration end March, autumn October. 

Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer visitor 
Bolshoy Balkhan, Kopetdag, Koytendag and mountainous parts of Badkhyz. Spring 
migration April-May, autumn September-October. 

Menetries's Warbler Sylvia mystacea. Widely distributed but uncommon passage migrant and 
breeding summer visitor. Spring migration from mid March, autumn from August-mid 
September. 

Streaked Laughingthrush Garrulax lineatus, Local and uncommon resident Koytendag, 
undertaking nomadic movements. 

Bearded Parrotbill Panurus biarmicus. Uncommon passage migrant, breeding summer visitor 
and winter visitor mainly to large and small river valleys and oases. 

Goldcrest Regains regulus. Scarce but widely distributed nomadic migrant and winter visitor to 
mountains and foothills, with small numbers desert areas. 

Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes. Uncommon resident and nomadic migrant Bolshoy 
Balkhan, Kopetdag and Koytendag mountains. 

Eastern Rock-nuthatch Sitta tephronota. Uncommon resident low and middle belts of Bolshoy 
and Maliy Balkhan, Kopetdag, Koytendag and other suitable areas of Badkhyz and Karabil'. 

Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria. Scarce resident and nomadic migrant to Koytendag, Kopetdag 
and Bolshoy Balkhan. May also occur foothills and even plains during winter. 

Bar-tailed Treecreeper Certhia himalayana. Local passage migrant and breeding summer and 
winter visitor Koytendag. 

Common Myna Acridotheres tristis. Resident. First recorded in Turkmenistan in the extreme 
southeast in 1912 but has now spread north to the Aral sea and west to the Caspian. 
Currently known from Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab, Gushka and Tejen valleys, 
foothills and mountains of Koytendag, Kopetdag, Karabil' and Badkhyz, and scattered 
settlements and wells in the Karakum. Very numerous Amudar'ya and Murgab valleys, 
numerous Tejen valley and Kopetdag foothills, and still rare in Karakum and in the west. 

Brahminy Starling Sturnus pagodarum. Vagrant, with one record Koytendag June 1963 
(Rustamov et al 1965). 

Rosy Starling Sturnus roseus. Common to numerous passage migrant, breeding summer visitor 
and nomadic migrant after breeding. Occurs throughout Turkmenistan from foothills and 
lower belts of mountains to plains along river valleys and Caspian basin. Spring migration 
late April-early May, autumn August. 

Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris. Widespread, common to locally very numerous passage 
migrant, breeding summer visitor and winter visitor, with some birds resident. Breeds 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


49 


river valleys and foothills and mountains. Spring migration March, autumn September- 
November. 

Blue Whistling-thrush Myophonus caeruleus. Scarce local resident Koytendag. 

Ring Ouzel Turdus torcjuatus. Uncommon breeding summer visitor Bolshoy Balkhan and 
Kopetdag, with small numbers resident. 

Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula. Common resident and passage migrant in small numbers. 
Occurs mountains and foothills of Bolshoy Balkhan, Kopetdag and Koytendag, and along 
river valleys and oases. More numerous at lower altitudes. 

Red-throated Thrush Turdus ruficollis. Vagrant, southern and eastern Turkmenistan. 

Black-throated Thrush Turdus atrogidciris. Common, in some years numerous, passage migrant 
and winter visitor found in mountains, river valleys, oases and deserts. Spring migration 
March, autumn mid September. 

Fieldfare Turdus pilaris. Common passage and nomadic migrant, with small numbers wintering 
southern Turkmenistan. Occurs river valleys and oases, foothills and mountain valleys. 
Spring migration March-April. 

Redwing Turdus iliacus. Widely distributed but scarce passage migrant and irregular winter 
visitor. Spring migration end March-April, autumn early September-end November. 

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos. Scarce passage migrant with some wintering. Widely 
distributed from plains to mountains. Spring migration March-April, autumn September- 
October. 

Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus. Scarce passage migrant and winter visitor to plains but 
resident in mountains eg Kopetdag and Koytendag. On migration found valleys, oases and 
even deserts. Spring migration March, autumn November. 

European Robin Erithacus rubecula. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor throughout 
Turkmenistan. Spring migration end March-April, autumn October-November. 

Thrush Nightingale Luscinia luscinia. Widely distributed but uncommon passage migrant, 
especially to mountain areas. Spring migration end April-early May, autumn August- 
September. 

Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor to mountains and river valleys and oases. Also occurs deserts during 
migration. Arrives early April, departs August-September. 

Bluethroat Luscinia svecica. Uncommon to locally common and widely distributed passage 
migrant, possibly breeding. Spring migration mid March-end April, autumn early 
September-end October. 

White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis. Uncommon local breeding summer visitor Koytendag, 
arriving April and departing August. 

Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin Erythropygia galactotes. Common breeding summer visitor to 
plains, preferring river valleys and oases. Arrives mid April-mid May, departs August-mid 
September. 

Rufous-backed Redstart Phoenicurus erythronotus. Scarce passage migrant and winter visitor 
southern Turkmenistan. 

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros. Common breeding summer visitor to mountain areas 
arriving mid March-April and departing September. 

Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus. Widely distributed but uncommon passage 
migrant, possibly breeding. Spring migration second half April-mid May, autumn October. 

Whinchat Saxicola rubetra. Scarce passage migrant throughout but prefers river valleys. 


50 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor to foothills and mountains of Kopetdag. Spring migration March and first half April, 
autumn August-mid October. 

Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata. Common breeding summer visitor mountains and river valleys 
and oases, arriving end April and departing between August and October. 

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe. Widespread but uncommon passage migrant and 
breeding summer visitor. Spring migration end February-mid March, autumn end 
August-end October. 

Finsch's Wheatear Oenanthe finschii. Widely distributed breeding summer visitor from the 
mountains of southern Turkmenistan to Ustyurt and Mangyshlak in the north, locally in 
Karakum. Part of the population winters in the south. Common mountain habitats, scarce 
elsewhere. 

Variable Wheatear Oenanthe picata. Common breeding summer visitor to mountain areas of 
southern and western Turkmenistan. Arrives from mid March and departs September- 
October. 

Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka. Uncommon passage migrant and scarce breeding summer 
visitor. Widely distributed during migration but prefers mountain habitats in the south and 
undulating ground in the northwestern and northern parts of Turkmenistan for breeding. 
Arrives spring mid March and departs August-mid October. 

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica. Scarce breeding summer visitor western 
and central Kopetdag. 

Kurdish Wheatear Oenanthe xanthoprymna. Scarce breeding summer visitor central Kopetdag 
between 1200 and 2500 m asl. 

Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer visitor 
to plains throughout Turkmenistan. Spring migration from March, autumn September- 
October. 

Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina. Common passage migrant and breeding summer 
visitor, with some birds wintering in southern Turkmenistan. The commonest species 
of wheatear occurring widely on plains, but avoiding river valleys and oases, and in 
mountains to high elevations. Spring migration end February-March, autumn August-end 
October. 

Rufous-tailed Rock-thrush Monticola saxatilis. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor to all mountain regions. Spring migration from mid March, autumn end 
August-September. 

Blue Rock-thrush Monticola solitarius. Uncommon breeding summer visitor Bolshoy Balkhan, 
Kopetdag and Koytendag, arriving end March and departing September-October. 

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata. Common passage migrant and breeding summer visitor to 
mountains, foothills and river valleys. Spring migration April, autumn August-September. 

Rusty-tailed Flycatcher Muscicapa ruficauda. Scarce local breeding summer visitor to juniper 
forests on Koytendag up to 2000-2500 m asl. 

European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca. Scarce and irregular migrant. 

Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis. Scarce and irregular migrant central Kopetdag and 
southwestern Turkmenistan. 

Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva. Numerous widely distributed passage migrant and 
probable breeding summer visitor to Kopetdag. Spring migration end March-end April, 
autumn end August-early November. 

Saxaul Sparrow Passer ammodendri. Common resident of central and eastern Karakum. Focal 
nomadic migrations during winter. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 51 


House Sparrow Passer domesticus. Common synanthropic resident of southwestern and 
western Turkmenistan. 

Indian House Sparrow Passer indicus. Numerous to very numerous but widely scattered 
passage migrant and breeding summer visitor to southern Turkmenistan. Spring migration 
March-April, autumn August-September. 

Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis. Unevenly distributed passage migrant, breeding 
summer and winter visitor to lower reaches of the Etrek, Tejen, Murgab, Karakumdar'ya 
and Amudar'ya valleys, western Uzboy and Kopetdag foothills. It may also occur in the 
Karakum during migration. Numerous to very numerous during autumn/winter. 

Desert Sparrow Passer simplex. Scarce and threatened resident of eastern and central Karakum 
undertaking nomadic migrations during autumn/winter. Included RDBT, category III (VU). 

Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus. Common but unevenly distributed synanthropic 
resident throughout. 

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia. Uncommon resident distributed throughout all mountain 
and hilly areas from Karabogazgol basin in the northwest to Koytendag in southeastern 
Turkmenistan. May undertake altitudinal migrations. 

Pale Rock Sparrow Petronia brachydactyla. Scarce breeding summer visitor Kopetdag and 
Badkhyz, arriving April and departing July-August. 

White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis. Scarce resident Koytendag and possible 
nomadic migrant elsewhere. Recorded central Kopetdag February 1983 (Sopyev et al 1988) 
and eastern Caspian shore 2009 (Scherbina 2013). 

Afghan Snowfinch Montifringilla theresae. Scarce nomadic migrant Badkhyz and KarabiE. 

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris. Scarce resident on Kopetdag and Koytendag. 

Radde's Accentor Prunella ocularis. Scarce local breeding visitor central Kopetdag. 

Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis. Uncommon passage migrant, winter visitor and 
nomadic migrant occurring sporadically foothills and plains. 

Hedge Accentor Prunella modularis. Scarce migrant and probable winter visitor southwestern 
Turkmenistan eg Sumbar and Etrek valleys. 

White Wagtail Motacilla alba. Common and widely distributed passage migrant and uncommon 
winter visitor. Prefers oases and foothills in winter. 

Masked Wagtail Motacilla personata. Uncommon resident mainly along river valleys on plains, 
in mountains and oases, 

Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola. Passage migrant to plains and mountain, preferring oases 
and river valleys. Spring migration mid March-early May, autumn August-September. 
Less numerous than Yellow Wagtail and Yellow-fronted Wagtail. 

Lesser Citrine Wagtail Motacilla verae. Passage migrant to plains and mountain, preferring 
oases and river valleys. Spring migration mid March-early May, autumn August- 
September. Less numerous than Yellow Wagtail and Yellow-fronted Wagtail. 

Common Black-backed Wagtail Motacilla calcarata. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor. In eastern Turkmenistan occurs particularly Amudar'ya valley (Shestoperov 
1937, Rustamov 1958). In west found along the Karakumdar'ya, Murgab and Tejen, and 
Kopetdag foothills. 

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava. Common and widely distributed passage migrant found in 
deserts, foothills, valleys, oases and Caspian shore. Spring migration end March-mid May, 
autumn September-October. 

Yellow-fronted Wagtail Motacilla lutea. Scarce and widely distributed passage migrant in 
deserts, foothills, valleys, oases and Caspian shore. Spring migration end March-mid May, 
autumn September-October. 


52 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla feldegg. Widely distributed passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor to river valleys on plains (common), mountains (rare) and oases. Spring 
migration mid March-early May, autumn August-September. 

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea. Patchily distributed and uncommon passage migrant and 
breeding summer visitor to mountain regions throughout Turkmenistan. Spring migration 
April and first half May, autumn October. 

Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi. Vagrant, with two records—extreme southwest near Esenguly 9 
October 1939, and northwest on south Ustyurt 23 April 1947 (Rustamov 1958). 

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris. Uncommon passage migrant and breeding summer visitor to 
foothills and mountains, though may also be found on plains during migration. Arrives 
April and departs September-October. 

Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis. Uncommon passage migrant mainly plains and to lesser extent 
mountains but can be common river valleys. Spring migration early April-May, autumn 
August-September. 

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis. Common and widely distributed passage migrant and winter 
visitor, preferring valleys and oases. Recorded end September-mid April, sometimes later. 

Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus. Widely distributed but uncommon passage migrant 
throughout Turkmenistan. Spring migration April-May, autumn September. 

Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta. Scarce breeding summer visitor to Bolshoy Balkhan, Kopetdag 
and Koytendag, and common and widely distributed passage migrant and winter visitor 
preferring river valleys and foothills. Small numbers also found in the Karakum. Spring 
migration early March-mid April, autumn October-November. 

Eurasian Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs. Common passage migrant and winter visitor to plains 
and, especially, oases, river valleys and Caspian shore. Also scarce breeding visitor to parts 
of Kopetdag. Spring migration March, autumn October-November. 

Brambling Fringilla montifringilla. Numerous and widely distributed passage migrant and 
winter visitor to river valleys and foothills, rarely mountains. Spring migration March, 
autumn October-November. The population is numerous. 

Fire-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus. Uncommon resident Bolshoy and Maliy Balkhan, Koytendag 
and Kopetdag, including foothills of the latter. May undertake altitudinal migrations. 

European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris. Passage migrant, breeding summer visitor and winter 
visitor Koytendag, Kopetdag and adjacent plains and Etrek, Sumbar, Tejen, Murgab and 
Amudar'ya valleys. Uncommon in valleys spring and summer, common mountains and 
locally numerous during autumn/winter. Spring migration March, autumn October- 
November. 

Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus. Widespread but patchily distributed and uncommon passage 
migrant and winter visitor. Spring migration March-April, autumn October-November. 

European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis. Uncommon but widely distributed passage migrant 
and winter visitor. Spring migration April, autumn November. 

Grey-headed Goldfinch Carduelis caniceps. Common resident in mountains and foothills and 
occasionally found river valleys southern Turkmenistan. Undertakes altitudinal migrations 
in winter. 

Common Redpoll Carduelis flammea. Vagrant, with three records—central Kopetdag 1914 
(Dement'ev 1952) and eastern Caspian shore winter 1975/1976 (Karavaev & Belousov 1977) 
and April 2009 (Scherbina 2013). 

Twite Carduelis flavirostris. Very scarce migrant to Kopetdag and Koytendag in winter. 

Eurasian Linnet Carduelis cannabina. Uncommon resident and nomadic migrant Bolshoy 
Balkhan, Kopetdag, Koytendag and their foothills. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


53 


Asian Crimson-winged Finch Rhodopechys sanguined. Scarce and patchily distributed resident 
and nomadic migrant to Kopetdag, Koytendag and probably Badkhyz. 

Mongolian Finch Bucanetes mongolicus. Scarce and irregular migrant to southeastern 
Turkmenistan. 

Desert Finch Rhodospiza obsoleta. Common resident and nomadic migrant patchily distributed 
from Caspian basin to Karakumdar'ya, Tejen, Murgab and Amudar'ya valleys, eastern 
Karakum, Kopetdag, Badkhyz, KarabiT and Koytendag. 

Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus. Uncommon and patchily distributed breeding summer 
visitor and nomadic migrant occurring Caspian basin, western Uzboy, Bolshoy and Maliy 
Balkhans, Kopetdag (Kurendag range), central Karakum (Unguz) and parts of Badkhyz. 

Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus. Vagrant, with two records Soimonov bay, eastern 
Caspian, January-February 2011 and November 2012 (Scherbina 2013). 

Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus. Uncommon passage migrant to plains and probable 
breeding summer visitor in mountains. Spring migration April-May, autumn August- 
September. 

Red-mantled Rosefinch Carpodacus rhodochlamys. Uncommon local breeding summer visitor 
Koytendag but may be resident. 

Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra. Irruptive migrant in years when conifer cone crops fail, 
sometimes occurring in flocks. Can occur anywhere but particularly Bolshoy Balkhan, 
Kopetdag and its foothills and Amudar'ya valley. 

Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula. Vagrant, with one record central Kopetdag September 
1909 (Rustamov 1958). 

Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes. Scarce nomadic migrant, possibly breeding. Most often 
recorded Bolshoy Balkhan, Kopetdag and its foothills and Koytendag. 

White-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas carnipes. Common resident juniper forests Bolshoy 
Balkhan, Kopetdag and Koytendag. 

Corn Bunting Milaria calandra. Common resident Bolshoy Balkhan, Kopetdag and its foothills, 
Tejen, Murgab and Amudar'ya valleys, Badkhyz and probably Koytendag. 

Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella. Scarce passage migrant and irregular winter visitor, 
occurring mountains, foothills and oases. Spring migration March, autumn October- 
November. 

Pine Bunting Emberiza leucocephala. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor occurring 
mainly river valleys and foothills. 

Chestnut-breasted Bunting Emberiza stewarti. Scarce resident Koytendag breeding in juniper 
forests. 

Rock Bunting Emberiza cia. Common though patchily distributed resident Bolshoy and Maliy 
Balkhans, Kopetdag, western Badkhyz, Karabil' and Koytendag. Undertakes altitudinal 
migrations. 

Grey-necked Bunting Emberiza buchanani. Uncommon and patchily distributed passage 
migrant and breeding summer visitor to Bolshoy and Maliy Balkhans, Kopetdag, western 
Badkhyz and Koytendag. Spring migration April-May, autumn August-September. 

Cinereous Bunting Emberiza cineracea. Vagrant. The only record is flock of 12-15 southwestern 
Kopetdag March 1989 (Leonovich 1996). 

Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana. Uncommon breeding summer visitor Kopetdag and 
widespread passage migrant. Spring migration April-mid May, autumn August-mid 
September. 

Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica. Vagrant, with two records—eastern Karakum 1 January 1893 
(Zarudny 1896) and eastern Uzboy 21 October 1935 (Rustamov 1958). 


54 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola. Vagrant, with three records 2006-2008, all Soimonov 
bay, Caspian shore (Scherbina 2013). Included in IUCN Red List (EN). 

Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala. Uncommon and localised breeding summer 
visitor Etrek valley (Belousov 1990) east to central Kopetdag (Mischenko 1986). First 
recorded June 1976 (Karavaev & Belousov 1977). 

Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps. Widely distributed passage migrant and breeding 
summer visitor to mountains and river valleys, oases and foothills. Common only Badkhyz 
and Karabil'. Spring migration April-May, autumn August-September. 

Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus. Uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor, with some 
birds resident. Occurs mountain and river valleys and oases, occasionally in deserts. Spring 
migration March-mid April, autumn October-November. 

Great-billed Reed Bunting Emberiza pyrrhuloides. Uncommon resident and nomadic migrant 
to Amudar'ya, Karakumdar'ya, Murgab, Tejen and Etrek valleys and rivers of Uzboy and 
Kopetdag. 

Lapland Longspur Calcarius lapponicus. Vagrant, with one record Soimonov bay, Caspian shore, 
October 2008 (Scherbina 2013). 

Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis. Vagrant, with one record eastern Caspian shore January 
1972 (Scherbina 2013). 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 

GR Welch reviewed and edited the original manuscript. 

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Karavaev AA. 1991a. [Population and distribution of waterbirds in southeastern Caspian sea (Grebes, 
Pelecaniformes, Ciconiiformes, Anseriformes)]. Prirodnaya sreda i zhivotny mir Yugo-Vostochnogo 
Prikaspiya / Trudy gosudarstvennogo zapovednika Krasnovodskii. 2. Izdatel'stvo VNIPEILesprom, Moscow: 
37-143. [in Russian]. 

Karavaev AA. 1991b. [New findings of birds in western Turkmenistan]. Materialy 10-i Vsesoyuznoy 
ornitologicheskoy konferencii. 2(1). Izdatel'stvo Navuka i Teakhnika, Minsk: 261-262. [In Russian] 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 55 


Karavaev A A & EM Belousov. 1977. [New data about birds of Turkmen Caspian sea shore]. VII Vsesoyuznaya 
ornitologicheskaya konferenciya. Chast' 1. Izdatel'stvo Naukova Dumka, Kiev: 65-66. [In Russian] 
Karavaev AA & EM Belousov. 1982. [New data of vagrant visitations of some waders in southeastern part 
of Caspian sea]. Ornithology (Izdatel'stvo Moskovskogo universiteta, Moscow) 17: 167-168. [In Russian] 
Khodjamuradov HI & EA Rustamov. 2010. [From data of ornithological monitoring in IBAs of western 
Kopetdag]. Issledovaniya po klyuchevym ornitologicheskim territoriyam v Srednei Azii i Kazahstane (Tashkent) 
3: 93-101. [In Russian] 

Khokhlov AN. 1995. [Ornithological study in western Turkmenistan], Stavropol'. 68pp. [In Russian] 

Teonovich VV. 1996. [Vagrant visit of Emberiza cineracea semenowi Zarudny to Turkmenistan]. Ornitology 
(Izdatel'stvo Moskovskogo universiteta, Moscow) 27: 276-277. [In Russian] 

Marochkina VV & EA Rustamov. 2008. [Vagrant Swan Goose at Amudar'ya]. Kazarka 11(2): 184-185. [In 
Russian] 

Mischenko YuV. 1986. [Species composition and vertical-habitat distribution of birds of central Kopetdag], 
Priroda Central'nogo Kopetdaga. Izdatel'stvo Ylym, Ashkhabad: 120-162. [In Russian] 

Mischenko YuV & NN Scherbak. 1980. [About new findings of rare and unknown birds of Turkmenistan]. 
Vestnik zoologii 1: 13-17. [In Russian], 

Red Data Book of Turkmenistan. 2011. Volume 2. Izdatel'stvo Akademii nauk Ylym, Ashkhabad. 383pp. [In 
Turkmen, English & Russian] 

Rustamov AK. 1954. [Birds ofKarakum desert ]. Izdatel'stvo Akademii nauk, Ashkhabad. 344pp. [In Russian] 
Rustamov AK. 1958. [Birds of Turkmenistan. Vol 2], Izdatel'stvo Akademii nauk, Ashkhabad. 252pp. [In 
Russian] 

Rustamov AK. 1985. [Birds. The Red Data Book of Turkmen SSR ]. Izdatel'stvo Turkmenistan, Ashkhabad: 
106-208. [In Turkmen & Russian] 

Rustamov AK. 1994. Ecology of birds in the Karakum Desert. Biogeography and Ecology of Turkmenistan. 
Kluwer, Dordrecht, Netherlands: 247-264. 

Rustamov AK. 2011. [The animal world of Turkmenistan and their protection]. Izdatel'stvo Ylym, Ashkhabad. 
246pp. [In Turkmen & Russian] 

Rustamov AK, MK Karaev, OS Sopyev & LR Freiberg. 1965. [Brahminy Starling —new species of bird fauna 
of USSR]. Journal of Zoolog}/ 44(6): 940-941. [In Russian] 

Rustamov AK & AF Kovshar' (eds). 2007. [The Birds of Middle Asia. 1.]. Almaty: 574. [In Russian] 

Rustamov EA (ed). 2013. [Birds of Turkmenistan: Illustrated Field Guide]. Izdatel'stvo Ylym, Ashkhabad. 
688pp. [In Turkmen & Russian] 

Rustamov EA, GR Welch & M Brombacher. 2010. Important Bird Areas in Turkmenistan. Ministry of Nature 
Protection, Ashkhabad. 195pp. 

Rustamov E & D Saparmuradov. 2010. Turkmenistan. Atlas of the Siberian Crane Sites in Western Central Asia. 
International Crane Foundation, Wisconsin: 83-89. 

Scherbina AA. 2013. [From the material of rare and little studied birds of Turkmen Caspian zone]. Izuchenie 
bioraznoobraiya Turkmenistana. Nauchniy sbornik, Moscow. In press. [In Russian] 

Shestoperov EL. 1937. [Guide for vertebrates of Turkmenskaya SSR (fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals). 
4. Birds]. Ashkhabad/Baku. 331pp. [in Russian]. 

Shukurov GSh. 1962. [Fauna of vertebrates of Bolshoy Balkhan mountains (southwestern Turkmenistan)]. 

Izdatel'stvo Akademii nauk, Ashkhabad. 157pp. [In Russian] 

Sopyev OS, AV Solokha, TP Bozhko & IA Kaidun. 1988. [Species composition, distribution and nesting of 
birds of central Kopetdag], Izdatel'stvo Ylym, Ashkhabad: 39-64. [In Russian] 

Stepanyan LS. 2003. [Summary of avifauna of Russia and adjacent territories (in borders of SSSR as historical 
region)]. Izdatel'stvo Akademkniga, Moscow. 808pp. [In Russian] 

Sukhinin AN. 1956. [Materials of distribution of some species in Turkmenistan], Journal of Zoology 35 (5): 
779-780. [In Russian] 

Sukhinin AN. 1971. [Ecology of owls and birds of prey ofBadkhyz (southeastern Turkmenistan)]. Izdatel'stvo Ylym, 
Ashkhabad. 100pp. [In Russian] 

Vasil'ev VI, EA Rustamov & ME Gauzer. 2009. [Monitoring of waterbird populations at the Turkmen shores of 
Caspian sea in autumn-winter (1971-2005)]. Moscow. 64pp. [In Russian] 

Zarudny NA. 1896. [Avifauna of Transcaspian Region (North Persia, Transcaspian, Khivin oasis and Low Bukhara). 

Materialy k poznaniyu fanny i flory Rossiiskoi imperii. Otdel zoologicheskii. 2]. Moscow. 555pp. [In Russian] 
Zarudny NA. 1910. [Notes of ornithology of Turkestan]. Ornitologichesky vestnik 2: 99-117. [In Russian] 
Zarudny NA. 1914. [Notes of cuckoos of Turkestan]. Ornitologichesy vestnik 2: 105-115. [In Russian] 

Prof Eldar A Rustamov, National Institute of Desert, Flora and Fauna of Turkmenistan, Ashkhabad. eUdaru@mail.ru 


56 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


The first Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca 
for Oman and the Middle East 


PETER OLSSON 

On the morning of 23 November 2012, Petter Olsson, Torbjorn Nilsson, Jakob Gustafsson 
and myself split up to search Wadi Darbat (17° 06.3' N, 54° 27.2' E, southern Dhofar, Oman, 
Sargeant et al 2008) for possible vagrants as well as hopes of getting good photos of the 
local birds. As I was trying to photograph some Bruce's Green Pigeons Treron waalia, I 
heard a call nearby which I immediately thought was a crake. Quite soon I found the crake, 
which I was unable to identify, a little bit further upstream. Fortunately I had my camera 
ready and was able to get a lot of photos (Plates 1-3, see also Plate 4) as well as some video 
of the crake at close range before it went into hiding in some grass. Since I was alone at 
the time I tried to phone Petter to make him aware of the finding, however he was out of 
range. After about 30 minutes, Petter showed up on the other side of the wadi and I told 
him about the crake. I tried to flush the bird from the small patch where I previously saw 
it. No crake was to be found. We birded our way back to the car and met up with TN and 
JG. I finally was able to show my pictures of the crake. Since Petter had done quite a lot of 
birding in southeast Asia he recognized the bird as one of the crakes that occurred there. 

As I was still the only observer, we tried to find the crake again. We went back to the 
observation area near the parking lot at the end of the paved road. Petter walked around 
the wadi to the spot where I had seen the bird before. While he was doing this TN, JG and 
myself stayed on the road side of the wadi and quite soon found the crake feeding in the 
vegetation along the shoreline on the other side of the wadi. So when Petter reached the 



■*****£. 


Plate 4. Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca Wadi Darbat, Dhofar, Oman, 23 November 2012. © Peter Olsson 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 57 



















Plate 2. Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca Wadi Plate 3. Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca Wadi 
Darbat, Dhofar, Oman, 23 November 2012. © Peter Darbat, Dhofar, Oman, 23 November 2012. © Peter O/sson 
O/sson 


place we could tell him about our recent observation and when he walked down to the 
shore to get some views, he flushed the bird which flew a couple of metres before it was 
lost in the vegetation again. After this, Petter came to our observation point where we 
could study the bird as it every now and then came out of the vegetation giving very good 
views. At this point we still had not properly identified the bird. With a little help from 
his phone, Petter managed to find some photos on the internet which made him confident 
of the identification. It was the first Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca for the Middle 
East. With all of us satisfied with our crake observations, we reported the finding to Jens 
Eriksen, recorder of the Oman Bird Records Committee. The record was subsequently 
accepted by OBRC as the first for Oman. The bird was seen again 4 December 2012 in the 
same locality by Karin and Orjan Fritz, Sweden. 

Description (see Plates 1-3): back and wings more or less uniformly brownish. Breast 
from legs and forward, throat and head were rusty-reddish. Underpart of rump banded 
with black and white. The area just behind the legs was slightly reddish-grey. Only seen 
flying briefly and nothing special noted. Bill was blackish, iris red and there was a bright 
reddish eye-ring. Legs were red. Size of bird more or less as Spotted Crake Porzana porzana 


58 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 





















Plate 4. The water visible bottom left was where the Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzano fusca was 
discovered. The camel was beside the photographer all the time that the crake was being photographed. 
Wadi Darbat, Dhofar, Oman, 23 November 2012. © Peter Olsson 


but hard to estimate since no comparable birds around. The photos and description preclude 
Red-legged and Slaty-legged Crakes Rallina fasciata, R. eurizonoid.es and Band-bellied 
Crake Porzana paykulli (Brazil 2009, Rasmussen & Anderton 2005, Robson 2007), the likely 
confusion species. The bird was clearly an adult (Krys Kazmierczak pers comm). The nearest 
parts of the species' normal range appear to be western India and northeast Pakistan 
(Grimmett et al 2011). 

REFERENCES 

Brazil, M. 2009. Field Guide to the Birds of East Asia. Christopher Helm, London. 

Grimmett, R, C Inskipp & T Inskipp. 2011. Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Christopher Helm, London. 
Rasmussen, PC & JC Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. 

Robson, C. 2007. Birds of South-East Asia. New Holland, London. 

Sargeant, DE, H Eriksen & J Eriksen. 2008. Birdwatching Guide to Oman, 2nd edn. Al Roya, Muscat. 

Peter Olsson, Stensbovdgen 5, 771 92 Ludvika, Sweden, peter-ohlsson@telia.com 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 59 













Migrating and wintering birds feeding on 
berries of Arabian Boxthorn Lycium shawii 
bushes in Kuwait 


ABDULRAHMAN AL-SIRHAN 

The Arabian Boxthorn Lycium shawii is widespread in the deserts of Arabia. It flowers and 
produces its berries autumn through spring, coinciding with the passage of wintering and 
migrating birds. The berries are small, juicy and sweet. I have observed and report here on 
various bird species feeding on the berries especially during spring migration when the 
bushes are full of fruit. This bush not only provides habitat, shelter and food in terms of 
red berries, but it also shelters insects, which become a source of protein for the birds. The 
Arabian Boxthorn should be protected in its own right and for the conservation of birds. 

Dickson (1955) wrote of L. shawii , "Berries of this plant are not poisonous. The berries 
were eaten by Fit. Lt. Stevenson when stranded for five days without food or water at Um 
Kasr in July 1941 and did him no harm". I have tasted them for many years; their taste 
is similar to a sweet tomato, not surprisingly as both tomato and L. shawii belong to the 
Solanaceae. Although a L. shawii berry tastes sweet in the beginning, at the end it tastes 
salty which puts one off consuming more. 

The genus Lycium is distributed worldwide and comprises c70 species (Fukuda 2001) 
though 96 species are listed on the International Organization for Plant Information 
website (www.bgbm.fu-berlin.de). In Kuwait only L. shawii occurs (Boulos & Al-Dosari 
1994) whereas in Saudi Arabia two species are present: L. shawii , which is widespread, 
and L. dasystemum, which is very rare (Migahid 1989, Mandaville 1990, Collenette 1999). 
Both flower in winter (pers obs), although L. dasystemum is reported to flower June- 
August in China (www.efloras.org). L. shawii is a deciduous bush shedding all its leaves 
by June (Plate 1). It is 1-2 m high and usually grows in groups of 5-20 in open desert 
or in depressions between hills and along coastal areas. It starts to flower in Kuwait in 
September (Plate 2), before any drop of rain, when the temperature drops slightly from 
the highs of June-August and produces its red berries by November (pers obs, Plate 3). 
Fleavily grazed Arabian Boxihorn bushes (see Plate 4) are full of berries in November 
(Plate 3). Arabian Boxthorns protected from grazing, such as those in nature reserves, 
continue flowering and growing without producing fruit until February when they start 
to produce berries and continue doing so until the end of May. The berries are 3-4 mm in 
diameter and contain about five tiny seeds. 

I observed the following species taking and feeding on berries of Lycium shawii in Kuwait 
(or nearby in Saudi Arabia): Turkestan Shrike Lanius phoenicuroides (Plate 5), Mauryan 
Grey Shrike Lanius lahotra pallidirostris (Plate 6), Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator (Plate 7), 
Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus (Plates 8, 9), White-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus leucogenys 
leucotis (Plate 10), Eurasian Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla (Plate 11), Tesser Whitethroat Sylvia 
curruca (Plate 12), Menetries's Warbler Sylvia mystacea (Plate 13), Common Rock Thrush 
Monticola saxatilis (Plate 14) and House Sparrow Passer domesticus (Plate 15). Eastern 
Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris (Plate 16), Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis (Plate 
17) and Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas galactotes (Plate 18) were photographed 
feeding on Lycium shawii berries in Kuwait by Rashed Al-Hajji. 

BWPz (2006) gave the following information. Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi took 
L. shawii berries in Oman. Arabian Babbler Turdoides squamiceps was reported to take 
berries of Ochradenus , Lycium , and Nitraria. Both Lesser Whitethroat and Asian Desert 


60 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 



Plate I. Lycium shawii bush, Sabah Al-Ahmad natural reserve, Kuwait, 27 August 2013. The bush is leafless and 
appears dead. © A Al-Sirhan 



Plate 2. Lycium shawii producing flowers in autumn, Sabah Al-Ahmad natural reserve, Kuwait, 16 September 2014. 
© A ALSirhan 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


61 




































Plate 3. Lycium shawii bush fruiting in November, Subi/a, Kuwait, 30 November 2014. ©A Al-Sirhan 



Plate 4. Arabian Camels Camelus dromedarius browsing on Lycium shawii bushes at Subiya, Kuwait, 10 February 2008. 
© A Al-Sirhan 


62 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 






















Plate 5. Turkestan Shrike Lanius phoenicuroides with Lycium shawii berry, Khiran, Kuwait, 23 March 2014. ©A Al-Sirhan 



Plate 6. Mauryan Grey Shrike Lanius lahotra pallidirostris with Lycium shawii berry, Hafr Al-Batin, Saudi Arabia, 24 
March 2012. © A Al-Sirhan 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 63 






























Plate 7. Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator with Lycium shawii berry, Khiran, Kuwait, 15 March 2014. © A Al-Sirhan 



Plate 8. Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus with Lycium shawii berry, Khiran, Kuwait, 28 March 2014. ©A Al-Sirhan 


64 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 
























Plate 9. Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus with Lycium shawii berry, Khiran, Kuwait, 25 March 2014. ©A Al-Sirhan 



Plate 10. White-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus leucogenys leucotis with Lycium shawii berry, Khiran, Kuwait, 28 March 2014. 
© A Al-Sirhan 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 65 



















Plate I I. Eurasian Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla with Lycium shawii berry, Khiran, Kuwait, 28 March 2014. ©A Al-Sirhan 



Plate 12. Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca with Lycium shawii berry, Khiran, Kuwait, 25 March 2014. ©/A Al-Sirhan 


66 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 























Plate 13. Menetries’s Warbler Sylvia mystacea , Khiran, Kuwait, 15 March 2014. The bird has a berry but the berry 
is hidden from view. © A Al-Sirhan 



Plate 14. Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis with Lycium shawii berry, Khiran, Kuwait, 25 March 2014. ©A 
Al-Sirhan 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 67 


































Plate 15. House Sparrow Passer domesticus with Lycium shawii berry, Khiran, Kuwait, 28 March 2014. ©A Al-Sirhan 



Plate 16. Eastern Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris Plate 17. Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis with 
with Lycium shawii berry, Khiran, Kuwait, 2 March 2013. Lycium shawii berry, Khiran, Kuwait, 30 March 2013. © 
© R Al-Hajji R Al-Hajji 


68 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 







































Plate 18. Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin Cercotrichas Plate 19. Purple Sunbird Cinnyris asiaticus, feeding on 
galactotes with Lycium shawii berry, Khiran, Kuwait, 9 nectar of Lycium shawii flower, Subiya, Kuwait, 12 January 
April 2011. © R Al-Hajji 2008. © A Al-Sirhan 


Warbler Sylvia nana took L. shawii berries at At Ta'if, Saudi Arabia. Menetries's Warbler fed 
on many Lycium berries there, November-April. Arabian Warbler Sylvia leucomelaena has 
been reported taking berries of L. shawii and Nitraria retusa and a Blackstart Oenanthe 
melanura ate a L. shawii berry in eastern Saudi Arabia. Jennings (2010) reported that 
Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus took fruit of L. shawii in Oman. 

The above records concern berries. On 5 January 2008 I observed a vagrant Purple 
Sunbird Cinnyris asiaticus feeding on L. shawii flower nectar. The nectar was its main 
source of food as it fed continuously on nectar for just over a month (Plate 19). However, 
the sunbird disappeared a short while after a flock of camels 'invaded' the bushes (Plate 4). 

In Kuwait, Arabian Boxthorn sheds its leaves by June and appears lifeless (Plate 1). In 
September flower buds and leaves begin to appear simultaneously, the flowers appearing 
before fully-grown leaves appear (pers obs). In Arabia camels graze on the young shoots 
and flowers preventing any further growth and reducing the plant's size by chewing 
terminal branches. Lycium shawii bushes have their own unique 'ecosystem'. Windblown 
sand accumulates around the bushes, traps rain water and becomes a rich habitat for the 
growth of annual plants, a habitat for rodents and reptiles to burrow into and beetles and 
small lizards can shelter inside and around. Shrikes impale their prey onto the spines of L. 
shawii including lizards, birds and rodents. In September, before autumn rain, no annuals 
grow but the L. shawii branches grow leaves and flowers and thus L. shawii becomes a 
magnet for browsing livestock. 

Equipped with navigation equipment, mobile homes and water tankers, camel herders 
have easy access to L. shawii bushes, allowing further devastation of the desert ecosystem. 
With the advent of oil, camel herding became a pastime or hobby for rich Arabs. To many 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 69 




















Arab individuals, it reminds them of how their ancestors lived in the past. Many retirees 
start this hobby and venture into the desert with a huge flock/herd of sheep and camels. 
This hobby has increased the camel population to far more than I believe existed before, 
thus putting more pressure on this vulnerable ecosystem. Government authorities have 
no official numbers on current and past camel populations and seem to be unaware 
of their devastating effect on desert land. Humans have intervened in the ecosystem 
and sided with camels against other living things. Camels in Kuwait have no economic 
value as neither their meat nor their milk has any commercial value nowadays. For the 
conservation of birds, we need to conserve the Arabian Boxthorn by controlling numbers 
of grazing animals. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 

I would like to thank Rashed Al-Hajji for usage of three of his photographs. 

•* 

REFERENCES 

Boulos, L & M Al-Dosari. 1994. Checklist of the flora of Kuwait. Journal of the University of Kuwait (Science) 
21: 203-217. 

BWPz. 2006. Birds of the Western Palearctic interactive. Version 2.0. BirdGuides, UK. 

Collenette, S. 1999. Wildflowers of Saudi Arabia. National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and 
Development, Riyadh. 

Dickson, V. 1955. The Wild Flowers of Kuwait and Bahrain. George Allen & Unwin, London. 

Fukuda, T, J Yokoyama & H Ohashi. 2001. Phylogeny and biogeography of the genus Lycium (Solanaceae): 

Inferences from chloroplast DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 19: 246-258. 

Jennings, MC. 2010. Atlas of the breeding birds of Arabia. Fauna of Arabia 25. 

Mandaville, J. 1990. Flora of Eastern Saudi Arabia. Kegan Paul International, London. 

Migahid A. 1989. Flora of Saudi Arabia. Vol 3. 3rd edn. University Libraries, King Saud University, Riyadh. 
AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan, PO Box 49272, Omariya, Kuwait 85153. alsirhan@alsirhan.corn 


70 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Artificial waterbodies in Sarakhs county: 
important stopover sites for migratory 
waterbirds in northeastern Iran 

ALI KHANI, ELHAM NOURANI, ANOOSHE KAFASH, SAYYAD SHAYKHI ILANLOO, 

JAVAD ALIPOUR & MASOUD YOUSEFI 

Migration of birds involves long hours of flight interspersed with time spent at stopover sites. 
Identification and conservation of stopover sites is crucial for the conservation of migratory bird 
populations. We set out to investigate the passage migrant avifauna of Sarakhs county, northeastern 
Iran, to determine the importance of this region for stopovers. Of 76 species of waterbirds and 
shorebirds that we recorded during our survey, 2007-2013, 26 species were passage migrants, 
mostly recorded on artificial wetlands in the county. Nine of these species were new records 
for northeast Iran. Our results indicate that the artificial waterbodies built in the area serve as 
important stopover sites for migratory waterbirds and waders, attracting birds outside their usual 
distributional range. We believe that conservation of these valuable habitats and the migratory 
birds that depend on them is possible through involvement of the private owners, mostly through 
encouraging birdwatching activities and ecotourism. 

INTRODUCTION 

Sarakhs county is located in the northeasternmost part of Iran (Figure 1) and is where 
the Karakum plains of Turkmenistan penetrate within Iranian borders. Stretches of the 
Kopet Dagh mountains of northern Khorasan also reach this area (Darvishzadeh 2003), 
providing Sarakhs with a diversity of habitats. Sarakhs county encompasses four of the 
eight bird habitat types of Iran (Scott 1995); true high mountains, deserts and semi-deserts, 
semi-arid steppe plains and foothills, and wetlands. Each of these habitat types supports 



Turkmenistan 


Sarakhs £ 


at County 


Lake Bazangan 

Ah 


Mashhad County 


Torbat Jam County 


Figure I. Sarakhs county, northeasternmost Iran. It includes Sarakhs city, lake Bazangan (natural) and the Dousti dam 
reservoir (largest waterbody in county). 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 71 











unique communities of birds. Moreover, Sarakhs county is an intersection point of the 
western and eastern Palearctic and because it is separated from the central Iranian plateau 
by the Hezar Masjed and Mozdouran mountains, it is the only region in Iran where birds 
of eastern Palearctic descent such as Turkestan Tit Panis bokharensis and Pale-backed 
Pigeon Colwnba eversmanni can be found. 

Although Iran is mainly a climatically dry country, its network of wetland systems 
provides valuable staging and wintering areas for migratory waterbirds in the African- 
Western Eurasian flyway. A number of these wetlands, both natural and man-made, 
designated as protected areas or identified as Ramsar sites, have legal protection status. 
The international significance of a considerable number of wetlands has also been verified 
(BirdTife International 2013). However, there remain a number of important areas in Iran, 
especially in the understudied regions of the south and east (Khaleghizadeh 2007), which 
have not received sufficient attention. Sarakhs county is one such area, little studied with 
regard to birds in general and migratory birds in particular. This is while the records and 
observations of rangers of the Department of Environment and of birdwatchers indicate 
a diverse avifauna of migratory birds in this region. In the present study we set out to 
confirm the importance of this area as a stopover for migratory waterbirds and shorebirds, 
by surveying the richness of passage migrant species that occur in the region. As there is 
only one natural waterbody in Sarakhs county, we expected that a considerable portion of 
wetland migratory birds would depend on the various man-made waterbodies in the area. 

MATERIALS AND METHODS 

Study area 

Sarakhs county (36° 32' 42" N, 61° 09' 28" E), located in the northeasternmost part of 
Khorasan-e Razavi province, covers an area of 5472 km 2 . The Kashaf Rud river in the south 
and Tajan river (the Harirud and Kashaf Rud together) in the east are the natural borders 
of this area. The west and southwest of the county is enclosed by the easternmost limits 
of the Kopet Dagh mountains. Sarakhs county has common borders with Turkmenistan 
in the north and east and is located where the eastern Alborz mountain chain meets 
the lowland plains of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan (Figure 1). The county therefore 
comprises mountains (Kopet Dagh/Hezar Masjed system) and plains. The most elevated 
part of the county, located in the Kopet Dagh highlands, is c2500 m asl, while the lowest 
part, in the southern Sarakhs plains, is 250 m asl. Average annual precipitation varies 
between 200 mm in the northeast to more than 400 mm in the western highlands and 
annual temperature ranges from less than 12°C to more than 17°C in the northeastern 
lowlands. One notable protected area in the county is the Khajeh highlands where one 
of the few remaining natural stands of Pistachio Pistacia vera in Iran remains (Saberi et 
al 2011). The only natural wetland in the county is lake Bazangan, an 0.8 km 2 freshwater 
lake with maximum depth of 12 m. Numerous artificial waterbodies of various sizes and 
purposes have been built, some for flood management and water storage and some for 
agriculture and aquaculture, covering a total area of c50 km 2 . The reservoir of the Dousti 
dam is the largest waterbody in the county (49.32 km 2 ). 

Data collection 

The present study was carried out 2007-2013 in all four seasons, though not consecutively. 
Waterbirds were identified with the help of Scott et al (1975), Mullarney et al (1999) and 
Porter et al (2005) and the maximum number of individuals per visit was recorded for 
each species. Identification was aided using an 80 x 80 Swarovski telescope, 8 x 32 and 7 x 35 
binoculars, and a Canon 40 D camera (sigma lens 50 x 500). The status of passage migrant 
was assigned according to season observed and by consulting Birdlife International 


72 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


species factsheets (www.birdlife.org) and other sources (Scott & Rose 1996, Mullarney et al 
1999, Mansoori 2008, Kaboli et al 2012). 

RESULTS 

We observed a total of 76 species of waterbirds and shorebirds, in six orders and 16 
families, in Sarakhs county during our survey (Table 1). Charadriiformes was the most 
common order, with 30 species. We determined three species to be resident in Sarakhs 
county and four as breeding summer visitors, while 26 and 40 species were mainly 
observed as passage migrants and wintering visitors respectively. Three species were 
vagrants. Of the 76 species, 30 were present both on natural and artificial waterbodies 
while observations of 10 species were restricted to the former and 36 to the latter (Table 1). 
We photographed the unexpected Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris (Plate 1), Long¬ 
tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis (Plate 2), Corncrake Crex crex (Plate 3) and Sociable Lapwing 
Vanellus gregarius (Plate 4). 

DISCUSSION 

Wetlands and waterbirds have long been the subject of many threats in Iran, among 
which wetland drainage and reclamation for agricultural activities are the most serious 
(Scott 1995, Behrouzi-Rad 2008, Nourani et al 2014). As natural wetlands are drying out 
or being degraded due to exploitation and livestock grazing throughout the country, 
the significance of artificial waterbodies as alternative habitats for migratory birds is 
increasing. 

The 26 species of waterbirds and shorebirds mainly observed on passage in Sarakhs 
county were mostly observed at artificial waterbodies (57%). Man-made wetlands, such as 
aquaculture and irrigation ponds, flooded agricultural lands, water storage areas etc are 
of high significance as waterbird habitats (Matthews 1993). Some artificial waterbodies 
are even more plentiful in food and nutrients than are natural wetlands, thus supporting 
a diversity of plant and animal life. Birds expand their distribution ranges as they are 
attracted to these waterbodies and migratory birds are attracted to them during migration. 

The reservoir of the Dousti dam provides a suitable deep-water habitat resembling a 
waterbody at early stages of succession, suitable for species such as Goosander Mergus 
merganser, and the shallow nutrient-rich waters of aquaculture ponds and the margins 
of flood control ponds are attractive to many waders and waterbirds that favour shallow 
water. Twelve of the sixteen passage migrant species that were new records for Sarakhs 
county (Mansoori 2008, Kaboli et al 2012) were only found at these artificial waterbodies. 




Plate I. Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris, Plate 2. Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis, Sarakhs 

artificial waterbody in north of Sarakhs county, northeast county, northeast Iran, December 2012. © Ali Khani 

Iran, June 2014. © Ali Khani 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 73 






Table I. Checklist and status of waterbirds and shorebirds recorded in Sarakhs county, northeastern Iran. Status 
statements of passage migrants recorded for the first time in Sarakhs county are marked with an asterisk and first 
records for the northeast of Iran with a double asterisk. Maximum numbers of birds per visit are presented for 
both natural and artificial waterbodies and wetlands. 



Species 

Scientific name 


Season 


Status 

Max 




ro 

observed 



number of 




.2 v 

-J > 

T3 w 
0) >> 

* O 
^ DjO 

fli 

d U 





birds 




M 

.C 

"SI 

CL 

to 

L. 

0) 

E 

£ = 

3 rt 
</) LL 

i. 

o 

■w 

c 

i 


3 

ft 

z 

.12 

'u 

13 

‘-W 

L. 

< 

1 

Little Grebe 

Tachybaptus ruficollis 

LC 

5jC 



Resident 

12 

7 

2 

Red-necked Grebe 

Podiceps grisegena 

LC 



j}C 

Winter visitor 

0 

1 

3 

Great Crested Grebe 

Podiceps cristatus 

LC 

jfc 



Winter visitor 

16 

190 

4 

Black-necked Grebe 

Podiceps nigricollis 

LC 



4c 

Winter visitor 

1 

2 

5 

Dalmatian Pelican 

Pelecanus crispus 

VU 



5fC 

Winter visitor 

1 

1 

6 

Pygmy Cormorant 

Phalacrocorax pygmeus 

LC 




Winter visitor 

2 

0 

7 

Cormorant 

Phalacrocorax carbo 

LC 



jjc 

Winter visitor 

0 

1 18 

8 

Grey Heron 

Ardea cine re a 

LC 

4C 



Winter visitor 

2 

15 

9 

Purple Heron 

Ardea purpurea 

LC 




Passage migrant 

1 

1 

10 

Little Egret 

Egretta garzetta 

LC 




Winter visitor 

0 

1 

1 1 

Great Egret 

Casmerodius albus 

LC 




Winter visitor 

8 

50 

12 

Cattle Egret 

Bubulcus ibis 

LC 




Passage migrant** 

6 

0 

13 

Little Bittern 

Ixobrychus minutus 

LC 

4c 



Breeding summer 

3 

0 








visitor 



14 

Great Bittern 

Botaurus stellaris 

LC 

5jC 



Breeding summer 
visitor/ Resident 

1 

0 

15 

Black Stork 

Ciconia nigra 

LC 




Breeding summer 

2 

0 








visitor 



16 

Glossy Ibis 

Plegadis falcinellus 

LC 

JjC 

4c 4 C 


Vagrant 

2 

5 

17 

Eurasian Spoonbill 

Platalea leucorodia 

LC 




Passage migrant* 

1 

2 

18 

Mute Swan 

Cygnus olor 

LC 




Winter visitor 

0 

15 

19 

Greater White-fronted 
Goose 

Anser albifrons 

LC 




Winter visitor 

0 

1 1 

20 

Lesser White-fronted Goose 

Anser erythropus 

VU 




Winter visitor 

0 

1 

21 

Greylag Goose 

Anser anser 

LC 




Winter visitor 

0 

6 

22 

Ruddy Shelduck 

Tadorna ferruginea 

LC 




Winter visitor 

24 

140 

23 

Common Shelduck 

Tadorna tadorna 

LC 




Winter visitor 

2 

10 

24 

Eurasian Wigeon 

Anas penelope 

LC 




Winter visitor 

17 

0 

25 

Gadwall 

Anas strepera 

LC 




Winter visitor 

13 

30 

26 

Eurasian Teal 

Anas crecca 

LC 

4c 


4c 

Winter visitor 

40 

21 

27 

Mallard 

Anas platyrhynchos 

LC 



4c 

Winter visitor 

459 

1 100 

28 

Northern Pintail 

Anas acuta 

LC 



4c 

Winter visitor/ 
Passage migrant 

0 

4 

29 

Garganey 

Anas querquedula 

LC 



4c 

Winter visitor 

0 

1 

30 

Northern Shoveler 

Anas clypeata 

LC 



4c 

Winter visitor 

14 

20 

31 

Marbled Teal 

Marmaronetta 

angustirostris 

VU 

4< 



Passage migrant** 

0 

1 

32 

Red-crested Pochard 

Netta rufina 

LC 



4c 

Winter visitor 

9 

2 

33 

Common Pochard 

Aythya ferina 

LC 



4c 

Winter visitor 

150 

68 

34 

Ferruginous Duck 

Aythya nyroca 

NT 



4c 

Winter visitor 

0 

5 


74 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 














































































Species Scientific name ^ Season Status Max 


^ observed number of 

*i i- birds 

.1! ai 

-> > 





IUCN Red 

Category ( 

Spring 

Summer 

Fall 

Winter 


Natural 

Artificial 

35 

Tufted Duck 

Aythya fuligula 

LC 





Winter visitor 

25 

4 

36 

Greater Scaup 

Aythya marila 

LC 





Vagrant 

0 

1 

37 

Goldeneye 

Bucephala clangula 

LC 




SjC 

Winter visitor 

0 

3 

38 

Long-tailed Duck 

Clangula hyemalis 

VU 





Vagrant 

0 

3 

39 

Smew 

Mergus albellus 

LC 





Winter visitor 

0 

7 

40 

Goosander 

Mergus merganser 

LC 





Winter visitor 

0 

43 

41 

Water Rail 

Rallus aquaticus 

LC 





Winter visitor 

2 

0 

42 

Corncrake 

Crex crex 

LC 



* 


Passage Migrant 

1 

0 

43 

Moorhen 

Gallinula chloropus 

LC 


% 



Resident 

3 

0 

44 

Eurasian Coot 

Fulica ax.ro 

LC 





Winter visitor 

35 

21 

45 

Common Crane 

Grus grus 

LC 





Passage migrant 

0 

15 

46 

Eurasian Oystercatcher 

Haematopus ostralegus 

LC 

* 




Passage migrant** 

0 

41 

47 

Black-winged Stilt 

Himantopus himantopus 

LC 





Passage migrant 

5 

30 

48 

Pied Avocet 

Recurvirostra avosetta 

LC 

. ^ 




Passage migrant 

0 

5 

49 

Black-winged Pratincole 

Glareola nordmanni 

NT 





Passage migrant** 

0 

16 

50 

European Golden Plover 

Pluvialis apricaria 

LC 





Winter visitor 

0 

5 

51 

Little Ringed Plover 

Charadrius dubius 

LC 





Breeding summer 

1 

2 









visitor 



52 

Northern Lapwing 

Vanellus vanellus 

LC 





Winter visitor 

125 

3600 

53 

Sociable Lapwing 

Vanellus gregarius 

CR 





Passage migrant 

0 

7 

54 

White-tailed Lapwing 

Vanellus leucurus 

LC 





Passage migrant 

5 

16 

55 

Common Snipe 

Gallinago gallinago 

LC 





Winter visitor 

9 

55 

56 

Black-tailed Godwit 

Limosa limosa 

NT 





Passage migrant 

0 

2 

57 

Wood Sandpiper 

Tringa glareola 

LC 

% 




Passage migrant 

2 

2 

58 

Common Redshank 

Tringa totanus 

LC 



% 


Passage migrant 

8 

50 

59 

Common Greenshank 

Tringa nebularia 

LC 




5*C 

Passage migrant** 

1 

2 

60 

Green Sandpiper 

Tringa ochropus 

LC 



% 


Winter visitor 

1 

1 

61 

Common Sandpiper 

Actitis hypoleucos 

LC 





Passage migrant* 

10 

0 

62 Ruddy Turnstone 

Arenaria interpres 

LC 





Passage migrant** 

0 

1 

63 

Little Stint 

Calidris minuta 

LC 





Winter visitor 

7 

15 

64 

Dunlin 

Calidris alpina 

LC 





Passage migrant* 

0 

31 

65 

Broad-billed Sandpiper 

Limicola falcinellus 

LC 

* 




Passage migrant** 

0 

2 

66 

Ruff 

Philomachus pugnax 

LC 





Passage migrant* 

0 

2 

67 

Red-necked Phalarope 

Phalaropus lobatus 

LC 

% 




Passage migrant 

25 

40 

68 

Caspian Gull 

Larus cachinnans 

LC 




if: 

Winter visitor 

0 

12 

69 

Pallas’s Gull 

Larus ichthyaetus 

LC 





Winter visitor 

0 

41 

70 

Little Gull 

Larus minutus 

LC 





Winter visitor 

0 

2. 

71 

Slender-billed Gull 

Larus genei 

LC 




% 

Winter visitor 

0 

5 

72 

Gull-billed Tern 

Sterna nilotica 

LC 

* 




Passage migrant** 

0 

7 

73 

Sandwich Tern 

Sterna sandvicensis 

LC 





Passage migrant** 

0 

2 

74 

Common Tern 

Sterna hirundo 

LC 

* 




Passage migrant* 

0 

2 

75 

Whiskered Tern 

Chlidonias hybrida 

LC 

% 




Passage migrant 

0 

4 

76 

White-winged Tern 

Chlidonias leucopterus 

LC 

% 




Passage migrant* 

0 

2 


Sandgronse 37 (2015) 75 










































































Plate 3. Corncrake Crex crex, near Tajan river, Sarakhs county, northeast Iran, October 2010. © Ali Khani 



Plate 4. Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius, near Tajan river, Sarakhs county, northeast Iran, October 2010. © Ali 

Khani 


76 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


























Nine of the newly-recorded species were not previously recorded for northeastern Iran 
(Table 1) and the closest known stopover sites for them were mostly Miankaleh peninsula 
(Mazandaran province) and Turkaman steppes in Golestan province (Kaboli et al 2012). 
This considerable number of new records indicates the suitability of artificial waterbodies 
in Sarakhs as a stopover, attracting these species to extend their usual distributional 
ranges. 

The location of Sarakhs as an important stopover for a number of migratory birds, such 
as Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola and White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus, indicates 
that as these birds fly for hundreds of kilometres between their breeding grounds in 
Siberia and wintering grounds in Africa, they fly over Iran in spring and autumn and 
identify the most suitable sites to stop over. Occurrence of these species in Sarakhs 
suggests that this region serves as a valuable stopover for waterbirds and shorebirds 
migrating within the African-Eurasian fly way, attracting globally-threatened species such 
as Marbled Teal (VU) and Sociable Lapwing (CR). However, no thorough management 
and conservation plan has been proposed to ensure the sustainability of artificial 
waterbodies in the county. This is while these artificial habitats, if managed properly, 
will not only support a significant diversity of passage migrants, but could also serve as 
complementary or alternative habitats for wintering populations of migratory waterbirds 
(Kloskowski et al 2009, Choi et al 2013). We included maximum numbers for each species in 
this survey to provide a basic approximation of waterbird richness in the area. We suggest 
regular monitoring of migratory populations in the region to enable management and 
conservation planning as well as allowing for assessment against the quantitative criteria 
of Important Bird Areas and the Ramsar convention. 

CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS 

At a time of loss and degradation of natural wetlands in Iran (Behrouzi-Rad 2008, Nourani 
et al 2014), our study brings attention to the significance of artificial waterbodies in the 
conservation of migratory waterbirds. As more migratory species are being attracted to 
man-made wetlands in Sarakhs, it is of paramount importance that the owners of artificial 
waterbodies become involved in regional conservation plans. Raising the awareness of 
local land owners on economic and environmental values of migratory birds can have 
a significant impact on conservation of waterbirds and wetlands. Such can be achieved 
by providing land owners with practical guidelines on proper management of artificial 
waterbodies to attract higher diversities of migratory birds, with an incentive of increasing 
profits from promoting birdwatching activities and ecotourism. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

We thank rangers of the Sarakhs regional office of DOE for their support. 

REFERENCES 

Behrouzi-Rad, B. 2008. Wetlands of Iran. National Geographic, Tehran. [In Persian] 

BirdLife International. 2013. Country profile: Iran, Islamic Republic of. www.birdlife.org/datazone/country/ 
iran. [Retrieved December 2012] 

Choi, C, X Gan, N Hua, Y Wang & Z Ma. 2013. The habitat use and home range analysis of Dunlin ( Calidris 
alpina ) in Chongming Dongtan, China and their conservation implications. Wetlands: 1-12. 
Darvishzadeh, A. 2003. Geology of Iran. Amirkabir Publications, Tehran. 

Kaboli, M, M Aliabadian, M Tohidifar, A Hashemi & CS Roselaar. 2012. Atlas of Birds of Iran. Iran Department 
of Environment, Tehran. 

Khaleghizadeh, A. 2007. Review of the ornithological literature of Iran. Podoces 2: 53-60. 

Kloskowski, J, AJ Green, M Polak, J Bustamante & J Krogulec. 2009. Complementary use of natural and 
artificial wetlands by waterbirds wintering in Donana, south-west Spain. Aquatic Conservation, marine 
and freshwater ecosystems 19: 815-826. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


77 


Mansoori, J. 2008. A Guide to the Birds of Iran. Farzaneh Publishing, Tehran. 

Matthews, GVT. 1993. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: its history and development. Ramsar convention 
bureau, Gland, Switzerland. 

Mullarney, K, L Svensson, PJ Grant & D Zetterstrom. 1999. Collins Bird Guide. Harper Collins, London. 
Nourani, E, M Kaboli & B Collen. 2014. An assessment of threats to Anatidae in Iran. Bird Conservation 
International http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0959270914000264. 

Porter, R, P Christensen & P Schiermacker-Hansen. 2005. Birds of the Middle East. A&C Black, London. 
Saberi, A, F Ghahremaninejad, S Sahebi & M Joharchi. 2011. A floristic study of Chahchaheh Pistacia forest, 
NE Iran. Taxonomy and Biosystematics 2: 61-92. [In Persian] 

Scott, DA. 1995. A Directory of Wetlands in the Middle East. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, 

Scott, DA, H Moravvej-Hamadani & A Adhami-Mirhosseyni. 1975. The Birds of Iran. Iran Department of 
Environment, Tehran. [In Persian, with Latin, English and French names] 

Scott, DA & PM Rose. 1996. Atlas of Anatidae Populations in Africa and Western Eurasia. Wetlands International, 
Wageningen, Netherlands. 

Ali Khani & Javad Alipour, Khorasan-Razavi Provincial Office, Dept Environment, Mashhad, Iran. 

Elham Nourani, Anooshe Kafash & Masoud Yousefi, Dept Environmental Sciences, Facidty of Natural Resources, University 
of Tehran, Karaj, Iran. yousefi@ut.ac.ir 

Sayyad Shaykhi Ilanloo, Dept Environment, Facidty of Fishery and Environmental Science, Gorgan University of Agricultural 
Sciences and Natural Resources, Gorgan, Iran. 


78 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Proving the occurrence of Common Swift 

Apus apus pekinensis in the United Arab 
Emirates 

HUW ROBERTS & OSCAR CAMPBELL 

Contrary to its name, the Common Swift Apus apus is a rather scarce passage migrant in 
the eastern Arabian peninsula, mainly occurring from late February to early May and 
to a lesser extent in autumn, mainly September and October (Pedersen & Aspinall 2010, 
Eriksen & Victor 2013). Its tendency to pass through the region in low numbers, usually 
rapidly and at high altitude, means this species is presumably regularly overlooked, and, 
being frequently poorly observed, often dismissed as the much commoner Pallid Swift A. 
pallidus which is a breeding winter visitor to the eastern Arabian peninsula, being present 
and often conspicuous (including in urban centres in the UAE) from late October until 
May (Pedersen & Aspinall 2010, Jennings 2010). 

The nominate race of Common Swift A. a. apus is a summer breeder to most of Europe, 
occurring as far south as Turkey and east to lake Baikal and wintering in central Africa and 
southeast to Tanzania and Mozambique. A second race, A. a. pekinensis, breeds from Iran 
eastwards to Mongolia and northern China, generally at lower latitudes than the nominate 
form. A. a. pekinensis (hereafter pekinensis) again migrates to Africa, wintering primarily 
in the arid southwest, although has also been recorded as far north as Uganda and Sudan 
(Cramp 1985, Aye et al 2012, Chantler & Boesman 2013). The respective breeding and 
wintering ranges of pekinensis suggest that it is virtually certain to pass through the UAE 
on migration (indeed, it may even prove to be the default subspecies across eastern Arabia) 
yet definite field observations from the UAE are non-existent and there is no reference 
to this subspecies in Pedersen & Aspinall (2010). Eriksen & Victor (2013) state that sub- 
specifically identified Common Swifts in Oman are referable to pekinensis whilst in Israel, 
Shirihai (1996) classified this subspecies as a quite common migrant, mainly in eastern 
and southern Israel and mainly March-April when it may constitute some 10% of the 
Common Swift passage. One possibly complicating issue is the alleged existence of a third 
subspecies of Common Swift, A. a. marwitzi, described from African wintering grounds 
and supposedly breeding in Cyprus, Turkey, Transcaucasia and perhaps elsewhere in the 
Middle East, although breeding birds examined from these areas are within the colour 
range exhibited by typical nominate birds (Cramp 1985). This form as described is in some 
respects intermediate between the nominate and pekinensis but is not recognized either 
by Cramp (1985) or Chantler & Boesman (2013) and is not considered further, although it 
may account for the fact that many birds breeding in Israel are intermediate in appearance 
between nominate and pekinensis (Shirihai 1996). 

The present paper documents some recent observations made by the authors on 
apparent pekinensis in the UAE, with images from an autumn bird from Oman also 
presented. It is hoped that the images and comments presented herein will encourage 
observers in the UAE and elsewhere to examine passage swifts more closely and attempt 
to assign the best-observed individuals to subspecies. Identification of pekinensis requires 
a prolonged examination of specific plumage features in appropriate lighting conditions 
but, with increasing knowledge of the relevant field characters and increasingly available 
high .quality digital images, it is certainly possible. 

The generally fleeting nature of swift sightings, coupled with the frequently very 
harsh ambient light in the region, makes definitive separation of Common from Pallid 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 79 


Swift in the UAE (other than Pallid Swifts attending breeding locations) a challenge. 
Recent detailed information on the separation of Common from Pallid Swifts (albeit from 
a predominately north European perspective) has been covered by Larsson & Wallin (2012) 
and Ahmed & Adriaens (2010). Many features quoted in popular field guides, eg structure 
and general plumage coloration and shade, are often very hard to accurately evaluate 
in practice unless more than one species is present to allow direct comparison and the 
varying effects of ambient lighting on an individual's appearance are considered over a 
prolonged period. Somewhat less subjective features that will greatly assist the separation 
of Common Swift (of either subspecies) from Pallid Swift include the extent of paleness 
on the forehead and throat, the degree of demarcation between the latter and the breast, 
the precise shade of the ear coverts relative to the lores, the shade of the median coverts 
in relation to the lesser and greater coverts on the underwing and the relative strength of 
pale scaling on the flanks and belly compared to that on the undertail. All of these features 
can be used in the field, but require close and prolonged views to be evaluated precisely. 
Further, certain of these features are age-related and so must be interpreted with caution; 
eg juvenile Common Swifts have a much paler forehead than nominate adults and, in fresh 
plumage in autumn, body and wing feathers have fine pale fringes, so more resembling 
Pallid Swift. 

As pekinensis is, in many respects, intermediate between nominate Common and Pallid 
Swifts, prolonged and careful observation, ideally supported by good quality photographs 
is required to make an identification. Lewington (1999), from a study of specimens, found 
that the majority of pekinensis are very close to nominate and would require very detailed 
observation to be differentiated, although a few pekinensis are much paler and therefore 
closer to Pallid Swift. However, the breeding Pallid Swift in the eastern Arabian peninsula, 
A. p. pallidas , is the palest of the three (rather poorly defined) subspecies of Pallid Swift 
(McGowan 2002, Cramp 1985) so therefore in the Middle East the majority of individuals 
of pekinensis should be discernible, with care, from Pallid Swifts. 

For several years, the occurrence of swifts in the UAE in January and February that 
appear generally darker than the local Pallid Swifts have provoked debate amongst 
local birdwatchers, with opinion divided between those believing them to be within the 
acceptable range of colour and shade for Pallid Swift and others considering them a closer 
match to Common Swift, either nominate or pekinensis. In mid February 2011, the UAE was 
bathed in brilliant sunshine and strong winds, perfect for photographing swifts forced 
to fly low to forage and a large flock was observed over the lake at A1 Ain wastewater 
treatment plant, northeast Abu Dhabi emirate, by HR. Of the 200 or so swifts present on 
15 February 2011, cl70 were typical Pallid Swifts, as illustrated in Plates 1 and 2. These 
birds exhibited a suite of characters consistent with Pallid. The most significant plumage 
features, visible in Plates 1 and 2, include the rather pale median coverts, causing the shade 
of the lesser coverts to merge gradually into the greater coverts, prominent and obvious 
'fish-scaling' on the flanks and belly (more prominent than on the undertail coverts) and 
a conspicuously pale head compared to the body, with ear coverts and lores virtually 
uniform and a strikingly contrasting dark eye. The rather large head, broad abdomen 
and blunt wingtip are also supportive of the identification as Pallid Swift. About 15% of 
birds present matched the individual depicted in Plate 2, being especially pale on the head 
and with particularly broad pale fringing on the flank and belly. These features, coupled 
with the immaculate, fresh state of the plumage (most obvious on the remiges) indicate 
that these are juveniles. The appearance of juveniles in February in the UAE is quite early 
compared to information presented in Jennings (2010), who noted that nestlings have been 
recorded March-May (occasionally June) in Arabia. 


80 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 




Plate I. Pallid Swift Apus pallidus, Al Ain, UAE, 15 Plate 2. Pallid Swift Apus pallidus juvenile, Al Ain, UAE, 15 
February 201 I. © Huw Roberts February 201 I. © Huw Roberts 



Plate 3. Common Swift Apus apus pekinensis, Al Ain, Plate 4. Common Swift Apus apus pekinensis , Al Ain, 
UAE, 15 February 201 I. © Huw Roberts UAE, 15 February 201 I. © Huw Roberts. 


Associated with these Pallid Swifts of 15 February 2011 were about 30 birds which, 
in direct comparison, appeared noticeably darker, with smaller and more clearly defined 
throat patches and, whilst the flanks and belly were scaled, this was less distinct than the 
scaling on the undertail and vent. These characters, and the fact that the median coverts 
appear clearly darker than the greater coverts indicate Common Swift. Examples of such 
birds are featured in Plates 3 and 4. The Common Swifts featured in Plates 3 and 4 fit 
better with A. a. pekinensis than with nominate apus. Features that support this contention 
include the rather extensive pale throat patch, paler forehead (giving a paler head than on 
nominate, although not so contrastingly pale as on Pallid Swift), and prominent 'saddle' 
effect due to the very dark mantle and scapulars compared to the rather paler inner wing 
and greater primary coverts. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 81 













Common Swift, race pekinensis 


Pallid Swift, race pallidus 




well-defined throat patch 


scaling on rump & upper tail 
coverts often prominent 


almost uniformly pale 
head with sharply 
contrasting blackish 


scaling on rump & upper 
tail coverts rather 
indistinct 


eye area 


eye area less pronounced 
due to darker head colour 


quite strong "saddle" 
effect, usually more so 
than in Pallid 


throat patch large 
and poorly defined 


Plate 5. Common Swift Apus apus pekinensis compared with Pallid Swift A. p. pallidus, dorsal surface. Montage 
prepared with images taken at Al Ain, UAE, 15 February 201 I. © Huw Roberts & Hans Larsson 


Common Swift, nominate & pekinensis races 


Pallid Swift, race pallidus 



dark lesser & median coverts 
creating rather sharply set covert 


scaling most prominent 


outermost primary (plO) often 
noticably shorter than p9 



Plate 6. Common Swift Apus apus (presumably pekinensis on basis of upperside characters - see text) compared with 
Pallid Swift A. p. pallidus, ventral surface. Montage prepared with images taken at Al Ain, UAE, 15 February 2011.© 
Huw Roberts & Hans Larsson. 


Comparative illustrations with annotated notes, prepared by Hans Larsson and built 
from images taken by HR on 15 February 2011, amplify some of these points and are 
presented as Plates 5 and 6. It is very difficult (if not impossible) to differentiate pekinensis 


82 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 







Plate 7. Common Swift Apus apus pekinensis, Ajban, Abu Plate 8. Common Swift Apus apus pekinensis, Ajban, Abu 
Dhabi emirate, UAE, 13 February 201 I. © Mohammed Dhabi emirate, UAE, 13 February 201 I. © Mohammed Al 
Al Mazrouei Mazrouei 



Plate 9. Common Swift Apus apus pekinensis, Al Ain, Plate 10. Common Swift, Apus apus possibly pekinensis 
UAE, 7 March 2008 .© Huw Roberts (see text), Sila, UAE, 24 September 2010. © Oscar 

Campbell 


from nominate based on views of the underside only but Plate 6 compares the underside 
of a bird that matched pekinensis on the upperside against a Pallid Swift. Coincidentally, 
just two days before HR obtained these images, and during the same weather conditions, 
Mohammed Al Mazrouie was photographing low-flying swifts at Ajban, a district 150 km 
west-northwest of Al Ain and 15 km inland from the Gulf coast, to the north of Abu Dhabi 
island. He noted several obviously darker birds amongst a large flock of Pallid Swifts and 
was able to obtain high quality photographs, two of which are produced as Plates 7 and 8. 
The very dark greater median coverts, sharply defined pale throat and rather dark head 
safely eliminate Pallid Swift whilst the rather pale forehead and obviously paler, browner 
inner wing indicate pekinensis rather than the nominate subspecies. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 83 














Plate I I. Common Swift Apus apus pekinensis , Masirah 
island, Oman, 5 October 2014. © Oscar Campbell 


Plate I 2. Common Swift Apus apus pekinensis, Masirah 
island, Oman, 5 October 2014. © Oscar Campbell 


In the light of this, examination of images taken prior to 2011 indicates that Common 
Swifts matching the appearance of A. a. pekinensis have occurred in the UAE before. Plate 9 
illustrates one such bird. In this image, the saddle effect is very strong due to the markedly 
paler, browner greater coverts and the throat patch, although large, is well-defined. These 
features, and the apparently pale forehead, are all indicative of pekinensis rather than 
nominate apus. 

In September, Pallid Swifts are rare in the UAE, as all breeders and fledged young 
have long departed and local breeding birds generally do not return until mid October. 
For that reason, any swift seen in early autumn is likely to demand a closer look from 
perceptive observers. Plate 10 illustrates one of the few autumn images of Common Swift 
so far obtained in the UAE. It is clearly a juvenile bird and Pallid Swift is easily excluded by 
the darkness of the median coverts (which also have sharp, pale fringes) and rather dark 
head with a clearly demarcated white throat, amongst other features. Juvenile pekinensis 
is somewhat of an unknown quantity (Larsson & Wallin 2012) and this bird cannot be 
conclusively referred to this form on the basis of this image. However a near-identical 
bird was observed on Abu Dhabi island by OC 6 September 2013. Although images were 
not obtained, recorded field notes include reference to a very large, extensive and clearly 
demarcated white throat, diffuse but obvious pale forehead and, on the upperside, the 
inner wing paler and contrasting compared to dark body and primaries; these features 
collectively are suggestive of pekinensis. An autumn bird recently photographed in Oman 
also shows characters of pekinensis and is featured in Plates 11 and 12. This bird is also 
probably a juvenile (based on fresh, evenly aged remiges). Note the rather pale forehead 
and extensive pale throat, as well as the quite obvious saddle effect due to darker mantle 
and scapulars contrasting with paler, fringed greater and primary coverts. 

A corollary of the establishment of the apparently regular occurrence of pekinensis 
during late winter/early spring through the UAE may be some clues regarding the 
migration route of this subspecies. The average arrival date in the UAE of birds believed 
to be pekinensis is mid February. These dates are comparable to those from Oman where 
Common Swift has been recorded from February onwards (although there are rather few 
records in that month compared to March; Eriksen & Victor 2013). These arrival dates from 


84 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 








the UAE and Oman are about one month earlier than the mid March average arrival dates 
of Common Swifts (apparently nominate) in central and northern Iran over fifteen separate 
years (Khaleghizadeh 2005). Data therein suggests that Common Swifts arrived earlier in 
Tehran in the 2000s compared to the 1970s (mean date 11 March 2001-2004) compared to 
a mean date of 21 March over eight years 1968-1977). That author, citing the difficulty of 
separating Common from Pallid Swifts, notes only one record of pekinensis from the south 
of Iran, an informal observation in Bandar Abbas on 26 February 2000. 

Given that there are breeding populations of pekinensis in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan 
and Turkmenistan (Chantler & Boseman 2013, Aye et al 2012), pekinensis may be expected 
to migrate regularly through Iran and the lack of reports can be attributed to identification 

o 

difficulties (and, perhaps, limited observer coverage in much of the country). Akesson 
et al (2012) using small light-level geolocators to monitor movements of Common Swifts 
in western Africa and Europe recorded an average migration speed of 336 km/day in 
spring. Such speeds imply that birds transiting the UAE or Oman could easily reach Iran 
by late February or early March, in essence much earlier than the mean date 2001-2004. 
Elowever, the near total absence of Common Swift records (of any subspecies) from 
central and northern Iran during this period may imply that birds migrating through the 
UAE and Oman do not migrate through this part of Iran. Instead, their route though the 
UAE and Oman may continue in a northeasterly direction, taking them over southern or 
southeastern parts of Iran only and presumably through Pakistan en route to breeding 
areas in countries to the east and northeast of Iran. Whilst this contention is speculative, 
more concrete evidence on the movements of pekinensis should be forthcoming in the 
near future as results of a recently instigated tracking programme for this subspecies are 
realized (Townshend 2014). 

In conclusion, high quality photographs of mixed flocks of swifts by two independent 
observers have confirmed the presence of Common Swift amongst Pallid Swifts in late 
winter and early spring in the UAE at least in some years and it seems very probable 
that at least some (and possibly the majority of) individuals are pekinensis. It also seems 
likely that at least some individuals on autumn passage are also referable to pekinensis. It 
is hoped that continued observations, coupled with procurement and analysis of good 
quality photographs, will further confirm this subspecies as a transient visitor, possibly 
regularly, to the UAE and elsewhere in Arabia and that comparative data on timing 
between countries may shed further light on its migration pattern. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

We thank Hans Larsson for much useful discussion and advice on these challenging and fascinating birds, 
for preparing the annotations included in Plates 5 and 6 and for providing an English translation of Larsson 
& Wallin (2012) as well as several other invaluable references. We are also grateful to Mohammed Al 
Mazrouie for allowing us to include his photographs and observations, to Mark Smiles for useful comments 
associated with this paper and Nick Moran for assistance with references. Two reviewers provided feedback 
that improved an earlier draft of this paper. 

REFERENCES 

Ahmed, R & P Adriaens. 2010. Common, Asian Common and Pallid Swift: colour nomenclature, moult and 
identification. Dutch Birding 32: 97-105. 

Akesson, S, R Klaassen, J Holmgren, JW Fox & A Hedenstrdm. 2012. Migration routes and strategies in a 
highly aerial migrant, the Common Swift Apus apus, revealed by light-level geolocators. PLoS ONE 7(7): 
e41195. 

Aye, R, M Schweizer & T Roth. 2012. Birds of Central Asia. Christopher Helm, London. 

Chantler, P & P Boesman. 2013. Common Swift (Apus apus). In: del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, J Sargatal, DA Christie 
& E de Juana (eds). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. [Retrieved www. 
hbw.com/node/55328, 19 October 2014). 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 85 


Cramp, S (ed). 1985. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Vol 4 Terns to Woodpeckers. 
Oxford University Press, UK. 

Eriksen, J & R Victor. 2013. Oman Bird Eist Edition 7. Centre for Environmental Studies and Research, Sultan 
Qaboos University, Muscat. 

Jennings, MC. 2010. Atlas of the breeding birds of Arabia. Fauna of Arabia 25 (pp436-438). 

Khaleghizadeh A. 2005. Phenology of Common Swift Apus apus in the Middle East —Tehran. Sandgrouse 
27 (1): 79-82. 

Larsson, H & M Wallin. 2012. Pallid and Common Swift identification. Var Fagervarld 5: 40-51. [In Swedish] 
Lewington, I. 1999. Separation of Pallid Swift and pekinensis Common Swift. Birding World 12: 450-452. 
McGowan, RY. 2002. Racial identification of Pallid Swift. British Birds 95: 454-455. 

Pedersen, T & S Aspinall (compilers). 2010. Checklist of the birds of the United Arab Emirates. Sandgrouse 
Suppl 3. 

Shirihai, H. 1996. The Birds of Israel. Academic Press, London. 

Townshend, T. 2014. Tracking pekinensis Common Swifts, http://birdingfrontiers.com/2014/05/26/tracking- 
pekinensis-common-swifts/. [Accessed 2 November 2014] 

Huw Roberts, UAE University, PO Box 17172, Al Ain, UAE. hgbroberts@gmail.com 

Oscar Campbell, British School Al Khubairat, PO Box 4001, Abu Dhabi, UAE. ojcampbell25@yahoo.com 


86 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Common Myna Acridotheres tristis, a new 

invasive species breeding in Sinai, Egypt 

BASEM RABIA, MINDY BAHA EL DINt, LINA RIFAI & OMAR ATTUM 


Invasive species are among the major threats to native biodiversity and ecosystems, 
therefore it is important to understand and document the spread of such species into new 
regions. Introduced bird species can compete for the same resources as native species 
(Koenig 2003, Wiebe 2011) and if they are more successful than the native species, they 
can eventually replace those completely, which can lead to devastating effects on the local 
fauna and flora as well as agriculture. Common Myna Acridotheres tristis (Linnaeus, 1766) 
is one of the worst invasive bird species worldwide due to its ability to outcompete many 
native cavity-nesting species as well as being an agricultural pest (BirdLife International 
2004, Grarock et al 2013ab, Lowe et al 2000, Peacock et al 2007, Tidemann 2001). The Common 
Myna's natural range extends from eastern Iran through Central (Middle) Asia, India and 
southeastern Asia. In the Middle East there are feral populations of Common Mynas in 
Israel, Turkey and the Arabian gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, due to deliberate as 
well as accidental introduction (Holzapfel et al 2006, Sapir 2003, Shirihai 1996). In countries 
where this species has established populations, birds increased rapidly in number and 
distribution into neighbouring countries (Holzapfel et al 2006). The closest Common Myna 
records to Egypt have been from Lebanon, Jordan and Israel (Bara 2002, Holzapfel et al 
2006). The first record of a Common Myna in Egypt was a single individual recorded at 
Ain Sukhna, south of Suez, in April 1998 (Millington 2000). The second record was from 
an unpublished source (Holzapfel et al 2006) at Sharm El Sheikh in south Sinai somewhere 
between 1998-2000. Here we provide further records of this invasive species in Sinai. 

Observations were made opportunistically in northern Sinai along the Mediterranean 
coast July 2008-May 2010 (Table 1). Common Mynas can easily be identified in Egypt, 
since there are no other similar-looking bird species to be confused with. Over 30 
Common Mynas were observed. In the summer of 2008 we recorded the first sighting of 
this species in northern Sinai along the Mediterranean coast, when four were seen at the 
Zaranik protected area. About a year later two more were seen in Al Arish, west of the 
Zaranik protected area. In the summer of 2009, close to the Zaranik protected area, a pair 
of Common Mynas was observed nesting 


for the first time in Egypt. They were in a 
cavity in a salt factory building. Birds were 
later seen in different locations along the 
Mediterranean coast of Sinai July 2008- 
May 2010 (Table 1). All our records are c200 
km away from the first record of mynas for 

J J 

Egypt (Figure 1). 

Our observations confirm the presence 
of this species in at least five different 
localities (Figure 1), during different times 
of the year in northern Sinai. Breeding 
pairs have been observed in at least two 
different locations. In Israel, sightings 
increased from a single location along the 
Mediterranean coast in 1997 to sightings 
all over the country by 2003 (Holzapfel et al 


Table I. Common Myna encounters in northern Sinai 
(in chronological order). 


Month/Year 

Location 

Breeding 



confirmed 

7/2008 

Zaranik protected area 

no 

8/2009 

Al Arish city 

no 

8/2009 

Salt factory, Zaranik 

yes 

12/2009 

Al Arish city 

no 

12/2009 

Al Medan 

no 

12/2009 

Sama El Arish 

yes 

4/2010 

Al Arish city 

no 

5/2010 

Rafa city 

no 

5/2010 

Zaranik protected area 

yes 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


87 







Figure I. Distribution of Common Mynah in northern Sinai (triangles) 2008-2010. First two records from Egypt 
1998-2000 are indicated as stars. 


2006). Conservative estimates for Israel were 500 birds by the end of 2003, with the highest 
concentration of birds occurring in urban and suburban parks (Holzapfel et al 2006). We 
doubt that our sightings of birds in northern Sinai were from escapees or intentionally 
released individuals, since mynas are not commonly kept as pets in Egypt. It is very 
likely that they spread south and west from their breeding populations in Israel. Local 
authorities in Egypt need to be educated on the potential harm this species can cause to 
national biodiversity and agricultural systems. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

This note is dedicated to the memory of Mindy Baha El Din who devoted her life to the conservation of 
Egypt's biodiversity. We thank the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency for encouraging us to undertake 
this project and are grateful for the logistical support provided by Sherif Baha El Din. We thank the staff of 
Zaranik protected area, S Osman, H El Nagaar and S Awaad, for their assistance. E Musa, S Habinan and E 
Shiekh assisted us in the field. 

REFERENCES 

Bara, T. 2002. Bird notes from Lebanon, including two new species. Sandgrouse 24: 44-45. 

BirdLife International. 2004. State of the world's birds 2004: indicators of our changing world. BirdLife 
International, Cambridge, UK. 

Grarock, K, CR Tidemann, JT Wood & DB Lindenbayer. 2013a. Understanding basic species population 
dynamics for effective control: a case study on community-led culling of the Common Myna 
(.Acridotheres tristis). Biological Invasions 2013: 1-14. 


88 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 




























Grarock, K, DB Lindenmayer, JT Wood & CR Tidemann. 2013b. Using invasion process theory to enhance 
the understanding of management of introduced species: a case study reconstructing the invasion 
sequence of the Common Myna ( Acridotheres tristis). Journal of Environmental Management 129: 398-409. 

Holzapfel, C, N Levin, O Hatzofe & S Kark. 2006. Colonisation of the Middle East by the invasive Common 
Myna Acridotheres tristis L., with special reference to Israel. Sandgrouse 28: 44-51. 

Koenig, WD. 2003. European Starlings and their effect on native cavity-nesting birds. Conservation Biology 
17: 1134-1140. 

Lowe, S, M Browne, S Boudjelas & M De Poorter. 2000. 100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien Species. A 
selection from the Global Invasive Species Database. Invasive Species Specialist Group ISSG/SSC, Auckland. 
[www.issg.A50oklet.pdf] 

Millington, L. 2000. The first Common Mynah Acridotheres tristis in Egypt. Sandgrouse 22: 69-70. 

Peacock, DS, BJ Rensburg & MP Robertson. 2007. The distribution and spread of the invasive alien common 
myna, Acridotheres tristis L. (Aves: Sturnidae), in southern Africa. South African Journal of Science 103: 
465-473. 

Sapir, N. 2003. Six new breeding bird species in Israel during 1995-2002. Israel Journal of Zoology 49: 203-218. 

Shirihai, H. 1996. Tlie Birds of Israel. Academic Press, London. 

Tidemann, CR. 2001. Mitigation of the impact of mynas on biodiversity and public amenity. School of Resources, 
Environmental & Society, Australian National University. 

Wiebe, KL. 2011. Nest sites as limiting resources for cavity-nesting birds in mature forest ecosystems: a 
review of the evidence. Journal of Field Ornithology 82: 239-248. 

Basem Rabia, Zaranik Protected Area, Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, 30 Cairo-Helwan Agricultural Road, Maadi, 

Cairo, Egypt. 

Mindy Balm El Dint, Nature Conservation Egypt, 3 Abdalla El Katib Street, Dokki, Cairo, Egypt. 

Lina Rifai, School of Sciences, Indiana University Kokomo, 2300 S Washington St, PO Box 9003, Kokomo, IN 46904-9003, 

USA. LRifai@iuk.edu 

Omar Attum, Biology Dept, Indiana University Southeast, 4201 Grant Line Rd, New Albany, IN 47150, USA. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 89 


A white Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis 
macqueenii (Jacquin, 1784) in Saudi Arabia 

M ZAFAR-UL ISLAM, AHMED BOUG & HEIN VAN GROUW 

A white Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii (Plate 1) was captured north of Riyadh by 
a falconer. This bird was sent to the National Wildlife Research Center, Taif, 2 December 
2013 from Riyadh and kept in quarantine. Houbara Bustard is classified as Vulnerable 
because it has undergone rapid population declines over three generations (20 years) 
owing largely to unsustainable hunting levels, as well as habitat degradation including 
overgrazing of natural vegetation due to high densities of domestic livestock (BirdLife 
International 2014, IUCN 2014). The Houbara Bustard has been traditionally hunted by 
falconers throughout Arab countries. Houbara populations throughout its range have 
undergone marked redactions in recent decades (BirdLife International 2001, Cramp & 
Simmons 1980, Alekseev 1980, Islam 2007, Islam et al 2012) especially in Saudi Arabia 
(Jennings 2010). Conservation measures, including establishment of protected areas, 
education of the public, restriction of hunting, captive breeding and re-introduction, are 
undertaken in Saudi Arabia by the Saudi Wildlife Authority (Islam et al 2012). 

The normal Asian Houbara (Plate 2, Azafzaf et al 2005, BirdLife International 2014) is a 
fairly slender bird, with a tuft in the centre of the crown, and long plumes drooping over 
the neck, the uppermost plume feathers being black while the lower ones are white with 
black tips. The body is pale sandy-buff in colour, with darker brown lines and mottling, 
while the underside is white. Large areas of black and brown occur on the flight feathers 



Plate I. The white Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis Plate 2. Normal Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii, 
macqueenii, NWRC, Taif, Saudi Arabia, 2 December NWRC, Taif, Saudi Arabia, 2 December 201 3. © MZ Islam 
201 3. © MZ Islam 


90 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


















and the long, square tail is sandy-chestnut and patterned with four distinct blue-black 
bars. Male Houbaras are slightly larger than females. Details of the plumage of the white 
Houbara (Plate 1) and possible causes of its colouration follow. 

The white Houbara captured north of Riyadh is an adult male and apart from its colour 
is similar in behaviour and sound to a normal Houbara. Apart from only three black 
feathers at its neck at the rear of the crown, which are mainly hidden by other feathers and 
therefore not visible from any distance, the entire plumage is bright white with no sign of 
pigment. The bill of this bird is paler than a normal Houbara's, but has some colour left. 
The bill is a little longer than and not as deep as in the normal Houbara. The iris is dark 
grey and legs pale and yellowish. 

To understand abnormal plumage colouration it is necessary to know something about 
feather pigmentation. The main pigment determining plumage colour is melanin, which 
is in two forms—eumelanin and phaeomelanin. Depending on the concentration and 
distribution within the feather, eumelanin is responsible for black, grey and/or dark brown 
colours, and phaeomelanin for warm reddish-brown to pale buff. Both melanins together 
can give a wide range of greyish-brown colours. Melanin is produced by melanocytes, 
which are found mainly in the skin and feather follicles. These pigment cells are formed 
at an early embryonic stage in the embryonic spinal cord. As a result of genetic processes, 
the pigment cells migrate from their place of origin to the skin and feather follicles, finally 
settling into the skin where they produce melanin to add to the feather cells as the feathers 
grow. The amino acid tyrosine (released from nutrients in the food) and the enzyme 
tyrosinase (naturally present in the pigment cells) are necessary to start melanin synthesis. 
Any disturbance or aberration in melanin synthesis or the early pigment cell migration 
can influence final plumage pigmentation. The aberration can be caused by a temporary, 
external factor or may have a heritable cause (mutation). 

Most commonly, and most often wrongly, applied to the result of aberrations causing 
white feathers are the terms 'albino' or 'partial albino'. Albino is widely used for all sorts 
of different colour aberrations, even if the plumage is not white at all, but in only a tiny 
proportion of cases is it used correctly. Partial albino as a term is wrong, as albinos cannot 
produce pigment at all and therefore being a partial albino is simply impossible. Aberrant 
white feathers are hardly ever caused by albinism and usually it is either a form of leucism 
or has a non-heritable cause. Leucism, from the Greek leukos (white), can be defined as the 
lack of melanin from all or parts of the plumage (and skin). The lack of melanin is a result 
of the congenital and heritable absence of pigment cells from some or all of the skin areas 
where they would normally provide the growing feather with colour. Leucism comes in 
different forms; totally white and pied. In the case of white plumage, no pigment cells are 
present in the skin. In the latter case, partial leucism, the pigment cells are only absent in 
certain parts of the skin, leaving only these areas without pigmentation. Due to the way 
the early pigment cells migrate from their embryonic origin into the rest of the body, the 
white pattern caused by partial leucism is normally patchy and bilaterally symmetrical. 
A few white outer flight feathers on both sides and/or some white feathers in the face are 
typical. The white pattern occurs in juvenile plumage and the amount of white feathering 
does not change with age 

The most obvious difference between albinism and leucism is the colour of the eyes. 
In an albino these are red, caused by the blood that is visible through the colourless iris 
tissue, while in leucism the eyes still have melanin pigment and are often dark coloured. 
An albino has pigment cells in its skin but is lacking the necessary enzyme to start 
melanin synthesis, whereas a leucistic bird lacks the pigment cells all together and cannot, 
therefore, provide its feathers with melanin. Although the final appearance is roughly the 
same—white plumage—the biological and genetic background is different. Many other 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 91 


aberrations, like 'dilution' or 'brown', cause an overall, pale colouration but in these cases 
the melanin is altered but not absent (Grouw 2013). 

Clearly, this white Houbara (Plate 1) is not an albino as it has melanin pigment left in a 
few feathers and in its eyes. However, without knowing the history of this bird it is hard 
to tell whether the absence of melanin is the result of leucism or that it has a non-heritable 
cause. Having said that, non-heritable causes usually do not affect eye colour. Although 
this white Houbara has melanin-pigmented eyes, the colour is different from the normal 
colour, pale yellow. The embryonic origin of eye pigments is partially different from that 
of the rest of the body; eye pigments are formed mainly from the outer layer of the optic 
cup, and as leucism affects only the migration of melanoblasts (precursor melanocytes) 
originating from the embryonic spinal cord it has no influence on eye pigmentation with 
an optic cup origin (Grouw 2014). So in leucistic birds the melanins in the eyes originating 
from the embryonic spinal cord are absent leaving only eye pigments formed in the optic 
cup. In several species eg Greylag Goose Anser anser and Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus 
colchicus, it is known that as a result of leucism these remaining optic cup pigments give 
a dark, bluish-grey eye colour (Bruckner 1941). In this form of leucism in the Ring-necked 
Pheasant it is not uncommon that randomly a few coloured feathers occur in the white 
plumage. Our white Houbara bustard also has dark, bluish-grey eyes and a few coloured 
feathers left and therefore it is likely that its aberrant white plumage is due to a similar form 
of leucism. 

More recently another white Houbara Bustard has been reported, from Uzbekistan. 
This bird, also a male, hatched in 2014 in the Houbara Breeding Center in the Qizilkum 
desert, Bukhara, Uzbekistan (Keith Scotland in lift October 2014). The aberrant white 
plumage of the white Houbara captured north of Riyadh seems to be caused by a heritable 
form of leucism. The white plumage of the bird in Uzbekistan is likely caused by the 
same mutation which shows that the recessive allele for this particular leucistic mutation 
may be present in many individuals across the Houbara population. Common belief that 
aberrantly coloured birds do not survive for long in the wild due to being targeted by 
natural predators is incorrect (Grouw 2012). Only albinos will die soon after fledging but 
this is, however, due to their poor eyesight and has nothing to do with being white. Other 
aberrations, including leucism, do survive easily in the wild (Grouw 2012, 2013). Whether 

they manage to find a mate would depend on the mating behaviour of the species and 

> 

how important certain colour patterns are for success. In many species aberrant coloured 
individuals successfully breed in the wild and in some cases the aberration can become 
a recognized morph within the species (Grouw 2014). An established white morph of the 
Houbara Bustard may be a possibility, especially if leucistic individuals are not targeted as 
collectors' items. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

We are grateful to His Highness Prince Bandar bin Mohammed bin al Saud (President of Saudi Wildlife 
Authority) for his support and guidance for the conservation of Houbara Bustard and assistance from 
NWRC staff, especially Parveen Khan (NWRC librarian). Thanks to Nigel Collar and Keith Scotland for 
providing information. 

REFERENCES 

Alekseev, AF. 1980. The Houbara bustard macqueenii in the north-west Kyzylkum (USSR). Zoologicheskij 
Zhurnal 59: 1263-1266. 

Azafzaf, H, E Sande, SW Evans, M Smart & NJ Collar. 2005. International Species Action Plan for the Houbara 
Bustard Chlamydotis undulata undulata. BirdLife International, Nairobi. 

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened Birds of Asia. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. 

BirdLife International. 2014. Species factsheet: Chlamydotis undulata. www.birdlife.org. [Downloaded 27 
March 2014] 


92 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Bruckner, JH. 1941. Inheritance of white plumage in Phasianus. Auk 58: 536-542. 

Cramp, S & KEL Simmons. 1980. Handbook of the Birds of Europe , the Middle East and North Africa. Vol 2. 
Oxford University Press, UK. 

van Grouw, H. 2012. What colour is that sparrow? A case study - colour aberrations in the House Sparrow 
Passer domesticus. International Studies on Sparrows 36: 30-55. 
van Grouw, H. 2013. What colour is that? The causes and recognition of common colour aberrations in birds. 
British Birds 106: 17-29. 

van Grouw, H. 2014. Some black-and-white facts about the Faeroese white-speckled Common Raven Corvus 
corax varius. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 134: 4-13. 

Islam, MZ. 2007. Return of the native: re-introducing the houbara bustard to Saudi Arabia. Species 47 
(January-June): 22-24. 

Islam, MZ, M Basheer, MS Shah, H Subai & A Boug. 2012. Captive-breeding and re-introduction of the Asian 
Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Lessons learned. International 
Zoo News 59(5): 338-360. 

IUCN. 2014. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 

Jennings, MC. 2010. Atlas of the breeding birds of Arabia. Fauna of Arabia 25. 

M Zafar-ul Islam, Ahmed Boug, National Wildlife Research Center, PO Box 1086, Taif Saudi Arabia. mzafarul.islam@ 
gmail.com 

Hein van Grouw, The Natural History Museum, Akeman Street, Tring, Herts HP23 6AP, UK. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 93 


Singing Willow Tits Poecile montanus: 
Sino-Japanese song type recorded in the 
southern and western Altai, Kazakhstan, 
June-July 2013 

THIJS PETER MATHIAS FIJEN 

Willow Tits Poecile montanus (Conrad von Baldenstein, 1827) have developed different 
songs in different geographic regions. However, these song types do not necessarily match 
the geographic distributions of subspecies. In the Altai of central Asia song types mix 
and differ on a small scale. In the southern and western Altai, recordings and records of 
singing Willow Tits were lacking. I heard singing Willow Tits at four different locations 
there and made five recordings, all performing the Sino-Japanese song type. Using 
playback, individuals only responded to the local song type. 

Willow Tits have a wide distribution over the Palaearctic with many well-described 
subspecies (Glutz von Blotzheim 1993, Harrap & Quinn 1995). In central Asia several 
subspecies occur, with uncertain geographical boundaries: uralensis in southeast Russia, 
the southern Urals, southwest Siberia (Glutz von Blotzheim 1993) and northern Kazakhstan 
(Harrap & Quinn 1995, del Hoyo et al 2007, Gill & Donsker 2014) and baicalensis from eastern 
Siberia and the Altai eastwards and south to northwest China and Mongolia (Glutz von 
Blotzheim 1993, Harrap & Quinn 1995, del Hoyo et al 2007, Gill & Donsker 2014) to include 
the Tarbagatay (Cramp & Perrins 1994). The songarus group, which has a distribution in 
central Asia and China, has been given subspecies (Glutz von Blotzheim 1993, Johansson 
et al 2013) and species status (Songar Tit Poecile songarus , Harrap & Quinn 1995). The 
phylogeography of Willow Tits, including Songar Tit, has been studied (Kvist et al 2001, 
Salzburger et al 2002, Johansson et al 2013) including the microevolutionary development 
of song types (Martens & Nazarenko 1993, Martens et al 1995). However, song types do 
not necessarily correspond with the distribution of subspecies (Salzburger et al 2002, Eck 
& Martens 2006). 

SONG TYPES 

A map of the distribution of song types is found in Glutz von Blotzheim (1993), updated 
in Martens et al (1995). See also Martens & Nazarenko (1993). The 'Lowland' song consists 
of several notes where in each note there is a clear drop in frequency. This song type is 
mainly heard in the lowlands of Europe. The Alpine song (first described from the Alps) 
consists of several quiet horizontal whistles of equal length. There is some variation 
involving a slight frequency drop. Intermediates between these two forms exist. Except 
for these intermediates, both dialect forms do not respond to each other (Martens & 
Nazarenko 1993). From Scandinavia to the Far East a 'Siberian' song is heard. This song 
consists of both the Lowland and Alpine song types and variations on both. These birds 
do respond to other song types and individual males vary in their song. Then there is the 
last song type, the 'Sino-Japanese' song. This consists of several melancholic whistles with 
alternating high and low tones. This song type is mainly heard in Japan and very locally in 
the Altai. Song type distribution in the Altai is complicated with several song types (Ernst 
1992, Martens et al 1995, Ernst 1996, Ernst & Hering 2000, Ernst 2008). For example, in the 
south-eastern Altai (Tschazan-Uzun) only Sino-Japanese songs were heard and these birds 
did not respond to other types, while in the eastern Altai (Kuraj plateau) three song types 
(Alpine, Siberian and Sino-Japanese) were heard. In the northeastern part of the Altai these 


94 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 



Figure I. Sonogram (frequency kHz/time s) of a singing Willow Tit Poecile montanus recorded in the Ivanovskiy 
mountains, western Altai, Kazakhstan, 29 June 201 3 (recording XC 145196 on www.xeno-canto.org). This is the Sino- 
Japanese song type and is easily recognised by the alternating high/low melancholic whistling tones. The faint stripes 
after the latter tones are echo. 


latter three types were heard. It is hypothesized that these local differences in song type 
are still developing and therefore are not reflected in phylogeographic studies (Salzburger 
et al 2002). Data on songs in the southern and western Altai were lacking (Glutz von 
Blotzheim 1993, Martens & Nazarenko 1993, Martens et al 1995). 

SONG TYPES IN WESTERN AND SOUTHERN ALTAI, KAZAKHSTAN 

I was on a birding holiday with friends in the Kazakh Altai in late June and early July 2013. 
Living in western Europe I was unaware of the Siberian and Sino-Japanese song types. I 
recorded several individuals of Willow Tit that were singing 'differently', now knowing 
they were using the Sino-Japanese song type. Recordings were made with a Sennheiser 
ME66 microphone with K6 power module and Sony PCM-M10 sound recorder. Willow 
Tits were seen and heard singing: 27 June Ulbinskiy valley near Oskemen (1 individual, 
49.9604° N, 89.9723° E, 600 m asl), 28-29 June Ivanovskiy mountains east from Ridder 
(30+ individuals, 50.3409° N, 83.8917° E, 1300-1800 m asl, sound recordings XC145196 
(Figure 1), XC146671, XC145185 Xeno-Canto.org), 2-3 July at Rakhmanovskiye springs (20+ 
individuals, 49.5390° N, 86.4803° E, 1750-2000 m asl, sound recordings XC146672, XC146673 
Xeno-Canto.org ) and 4 July at Berel (3 individuals, 49.3651° N, 86.4747° E, 1300 m asl). All 
singing individuals only performed the Sino-Japanese song type. After using playback, 
individuals did not respond to the Lowland song type but did to the locally recorded song 
type. 

DISCUSSION 

Unfortunately, I have nothing to contribute on subspecific identification based upon 
morphological characters of the observed Willow Tits. Based on the literature and the fact 
that song types match those of baicalensis of nearby recording locations, I presume that the 
birds I recorded were baicalensis (but see Eck & Martens 2006). The origin and development 
of Willow Tit song types in the Altai is of interest and it is important to further document 
these. Adventurous sound recordists please note that further recordings of songs of the 
songarus group are also needed. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 95 




ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

I would like to thank fellow birders Thomas Lameris and Josse Hornsveld who joined me in the field. Arend 

Wassink sent stimulating messages on going to the Kazakh Altai. Patrick Franke and especially Stephan 

Ernst shared their personal experience and provided recordings and literature. 

REFERENCES 

Cramp, S & CM Perrins. 1994. The Birds of the Western Palenrctic. Vol 7. Oxford University Press. UK. 

Eck, S & J Martens. 2006. Systematic notes on Asian birds. 49. A preliminary review of the Aegithalidae, 
Remizidae and Paridae. Zoologische Mededelingen 80:1. 

Ernst, S. 1992. Zur Vogelwelt des ostlichen Altai. Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum in Berlin 68: 3-59. 

Ernst, S. 1996. Zweiter Beitrag zur Vogelwelt des ostlichen Altai. Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum 
in Berlin 72: 123-180. 

Ernst, S. 2008. Vierter Beitrag zur Vogelwelt des ostlichen und des zentralen Altai (Tarchata-Tal und 
Siidtschuja-Gebirge). Acta ornithoecologica, Jena 6: 67-113. 

Ernst, S & J Hering. 2000. Dritter Beitrag zur Vogelwelt des ostlichen Altai (Gebiet Mongun-Tajga). 
Faunistische Abhandlungen Staatliches Museum fur Tierkunde Dresden 22: 117-181. 

Gill, F & D Donsker. 2014. IOC World Bird List (v 4.4). www.worldbirdnames.org. 

Glutz von Blotzheim, UN. 1993. Handbuch der Vogel Mitteleuropas Band 13/1. Passeriformes (4. Teil): 
Muscicapidae-Paridae. AULA-Verlag, Wiesbaden, Germany. 

Flarrap, S & D Quinn. 1995. Chickadees, tits, nuthatches & treecreepers. Princeton University Press, NJ. 

del Hoyo, J, A Elliott & D Christie. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol 12. Picathartes to Tits and 
Chickadees. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. 

Johansson, US, J Ekman, RC Bowie, P Flalvarsson, JI Ohlson, TD Price & PG Ericson. 2013. A complete 
multilocus species phylogeny of the tits and chickadees (Aves: Paridae). Molecidar Phylogenetics and 
Evolution 69: 852-860. 

Kvist, L, J Martens, A Ahola & M Orell. 2001. Phylogeography of a Palaearctic sedentary passerine, the 
willow tit ( Parus montanus). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 14: 930-941. 

Martens, J, S Ernst & B Petri. 1995. Reviergesange ostasiatischer Weidenmeisen Parus montanus und ihre 
mikroevolutive Ableitung. journal fur Ornithologie 136: 367-388. 

Martens, J & AA Nazarenko. 1993. Microevolution of eastern palaearctic Grey tits as indicated by their 
vocalizations ( Parus [Poecile ]: Paridae, Aves) I. Parus montanus. Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary 
Research 31: 127-143. 

Salzburger, W, J Martens, A A Nazarenko, Y-H Sun, R Dallinger & C Sturmbauer. 2002. Phylogeography of 
the Eurasian Willow Tit (Parus montanus) based on DNA sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b 
gene. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 24: 26-34. 

Thijs PM Fijen, De Potvis 13-22, 1797 TA Den Hoorn, Netherlands, thijsfijen@gmail.com 


96 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Photospot 

Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius aegyptius 

JEM BABBINGTON 

The Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius is a desert species that occurs mainly in 
open desert with some trees and bushes, often near water, where their cryptic appearance 
blends perfectly into their habitat making them difficult to see during the daytime, 
when they usually sleep under low bushes. They are nocturnal, flying at night to hunt 
moths and other flying insects. The subspecies of Egyptian Nightjar occurring in Arabia 
Caprimulgus aegyptius aegyptius is slightly darker and greyer with heavier vermiculations 
than the sandier and less strongly marked C. a. saharae from Africa (Cramp 1985). 

The nominate subspecies is an uncommon bird in Arabia, with The Birds of the Western 
Palearctic (Cramp 1985) mentioning they winter in northeast Africa and migrate on a 
broad front across Arabia September-early November and March-mid May. Although 
this information is borne out by published data from countries of the Arabian peninsula 
there is no mention of summer or winter records. The Birds of the Middle East field guide 
(Porter et al 2010) makes no mention of summer records and only a comment saying birds 
winter in southern Arabia. The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia (Jennings 2010) mentions 
the Egyptian Nightjar is a scarce migrant and winter visitor but numbers are increasing, 
notably in the northern Arabian Gulf region, with birds present in summer since the 
beginning of the 21st century in areas where freshwater can be found. Over-summering 
has been noted in Kuwait and the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia with the possibility 
of this nightjar being overlooked as a breeding species being discussed by both Gregory 
(2005) and Meadows (2005). 

The photographs shown with this Photospot (Plates 1-9) were all taken at Sabkhat 
Al Fasl, Jubail, in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia in summer 2014. Birds have been 
recorded at this location May-mid September since 2007 at least. C. a. aegyptius occurs 
in northeastern Egypt and the Arabian peninsula, southern Levant, and Iraq, Iran to 
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, eastern Kazakhstan, western Tadjikistan and extreme western 
Pakistan and it winters in the eastern Sahel, arriving on its breeding grounds early April- 
mid May and leaving in September. These arrival and departure dates are almost identical 
to the period birds have been seen at Sabkhat Al Fasl. There had been no confirmed 
breeding records of Egyptian Nightjar in the Arabian peninsula (Jennings 2010) but the 
2014 records at Sabkhat Al Fasl where more than ten birds were seen together in July, 
August and September suggest breeding had occurred. As the birds are mainly silent and 
do not build nests but rather lay their eggs directly onto bare ground, proof of breeding is 
difficult to obtain. Breeding was proved in Bahrain in summer 2014 when a female with 
two chicks was found with the same bird having a second brood, or possibly a second nest 
present (Brendan Kavanagh pers comm). 

Birds have also started wintering in very small numbers in eastern Arabia with regular 
records from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait (Pedersen 
& Aspinall 2010, JB pers obs. King 2006, Al Sirhan 2014). It is clear that the status of the 
species has changed there in the 21st century, with the majority of birds no longer seen 
during the migration periods of early November and March-mid May. In eastern S.audi 
Arabia it was previously regarded as a vagrant (Bundy et al 1989) but is now known as a 
scarce passage migrant, summer and winter visitor, with July and August the best period 
for locating them. In Qatar most sightings are also now in July and August whereas 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 97 



Plate I (left). Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius aegyptius 22 August 2014, Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail, Eastern 
province, Saudi Arabia. © Jem Babbington 

Plate 2 (right). Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius aegyptius 29 August 2014, Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail, Eastern 
province, Saudi Arabia. © Jem Babbington 



Plate 3. Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius aegyptius 22 August 2014, Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail, Eastern province, 
Saudi Arabia. © Jem Babbington 


98 Sandgrouse 37 ( 2015 ) 
















Plate 4. Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius aegyptius 22 August 2014, Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail, Eastern province, 
Saudi Arabia. © Jem Babbington 



Plate 5 (left). Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius aegyptius 18 July 2014, Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail, Eastern province, 
Saudi Arabia. © Jem Babbington 

Plate 6 (right). Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius aegyptius 29 August 2014, Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail, Eastern 
province, Saudi Arabia. © Jem Babbington 


Sandgrouse 37 ( 2015 ) 99 











Plate 7. Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius aegyptius 5 September 2014, Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail, Eastern province, 
Saudi Arabia. © Jem Babbington 



Plate 8. Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius aegyptius 18 July 2014, Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail, Eastern province, Saudi 
Arabia. © Jem Babbington 


previously it was seen mostly mid April-late May and late August-mid November (Jamie 
Buchan pers comm). In Kuwait summer sightings are now regular but the best period 
for seeing the species is still the main migration period March-May (AbdulRahman Al 
Sirhan pers comm) and in Bahrain birds are seen throughout the year with most birds 
seen August-December (Brendan Kavanagh pers comm). In the United Arab Emirates the 


100 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


















Plate 9. Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius aegyptius 4 July 2014, Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail, Eastern province, Saudi 
Arabia. © Jem Babbington 

majority of records, as well as number of birds, occur December-February although there 
is also a peak in September with sightings for the country becoming increasingly common 
and summer records of up to 30 birds now occurring with breeding suspected in 2014 
(Oscar Campbell pers comm). 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

I would like to thank Oscar Campbell for supplying me with data on the summer occurrence of Egyptian 
Nightjars in the United Arab Emirates in 2014 and Brendan Kavanagh for doing likewise for Bahrain. Jamie 
Buchan and AbdulRahman Al Sirhan provided me with data for Qatar and Kuwait respectively. 

REFERENCES 

Al Sirhan, A. 2014. Kuwait Ornithological Records Committee (KORC) Annotated Checklist of Birds, http:// 
birdsofkuwait.com/annotated_checklist.shtml. 

Bundy, G, RJ Connor & CJO Harrison. 1989. Birds of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. HF & G Witherby, 
. London. 

Cramp, S, 1985. The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Vol 4. Oxford University Press, UK. 

Gregory, G. 2005. The Birds of the State of Kuwait. Gregory, Skegness, UK. 

Jennings, MC. 2010. Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia. Fauna of Arabia 25. 

King, H. 2006. Bahrain Systematic List 2006. www.hawar-islands.com/checklist.html. 

Meadows, BS. 2005. Breeding season records of Egyptian Nightjars. Phoenix 21:11. 

Pedersen, T & S Aspinall (compilers). 2010. Checklist of the birds of the United Arab Emirates. Sandgrouse 
Suppl 3. 

Porter, R, S Aspinall, J Gale, M Langman & B Small. 2010. Birds of the Middle East. 2nd edn. Christopher 
Helm, London. 

Jem Babbington, do Saudi Aramco, PO Box 13007, Dhahran 31311, Saudi Arabia, jembabbington@btinternet.com 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 101 
















From the Rarities Committees 

Ian Harrison (compiler) 


Observers who have had a country first 
record accepted by a rarities committee are 
encouraged to write it up as a note or paper 
for publication. 

CYPRUS 

BirdLife Cyprus * Rarities Committee 
members: Colin Richardson (chair), Melis 
Charalambides, Stavros Christodoulides, 
Jeff Gordon, Hugh Buck, Nigel Cottle. A 
full list of Cyprus birds requiring rarity 
descriptions and rare bird report forms are 
available from Colin Richardson richar@ 
cytanet.com.cy to whom claims should 
be sent. The committee has accepted 
the following records since the report in 
Sandgrouse 36(2). 

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca. One 
adult Asprokremmos dam 18 June-17 
September 2014 (A Stocker). In good 
condition, un-ringed and untagged, with 
some wear on the tail. Suspicions aroused 
about its origins when it became less shy 
after a few weeks, but this was deemed 
typical for the species and it was accepted 
as the fourth record. 

Striated Heron Butorides striata. One juvenile 
Zakaki marsh 23 October 2014-at least 31 
December (M Philippou). Ship-assistance 
ruled out as main reason for its arrival 
after Royal Naval Birdwatching Society 
checked their record database and found 
no precedent. Placed in Category A. First 
record. 

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica. One 
Silver beach, Famagusta, 15 September 
2014 (N Pegler). 22nd record. 

Daurian Shrike Lanius isabellinus One 
Mandria 30 September 2013 (A Crane). 

Turkestan Shrike Lanius isabellinus 
phoenicuroides. One Agia Napa sewage 
treatment plant 30 July 2014 (M 
Easterbrook). 11th record. Historical 
records under review. 

Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus 
inornatus. One Mandria 25 September 2014 
(J Stapley). 14th record. 


Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola. 
One Polis reed-beds 16 September 2014 
(A Crabtree, MA Preston). Second record. 

Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris. 
One Paphos sewage treatment plant 27 
September 2013 (C Richardson). 30th 
record. 

Menetries' Warbler Sylvia mystacea. One 
Agia Napa sewage works 30 July 2014 (M 
Easterbrook). Second record. 

Masked Wagtail Motacilla (alba) personata. One 
Mandria 1-3 March 2014 (C Richardson). 
Fourth record. 

Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus (rubescens) japonicus. 
One Akhna dam 17 November 2013 (S 
Christodoulides). Third record. 

Western Cinereous Bunting Emberiza 
cineracea Two Agia Napa sewage treatment 
plant 30 August-3 September 2014 (S 
Christodoulides). 

EGYPT 

The Egyptian Ornithological Rarities 
Committee comprises Sherif Baha El Din 
(chair), Frederic Jiguet (secretary). Wed 
Abdel Latif Ibrahim, Richard Bonser, 
Andrea Corso, Pierre Andre Crochet, 
Andrew Grieve, Richard Hoath and Manuel 
Schweizer. Official external advisers are 
Istvan Moldovan, Ahmed Riad and Mary 
Megalli. Claims should be sent to eorc. 
secretary@gmail.com. See also www.chn- 
f ranee, or g/eorc/eorc.php?id_content=l 
where claim forms can be downloaded. 

ISRAEL 

The Israel Rarities and Distribution 
Committee comprises Avner Cohen 
(secretary), Barak Granit and Yoav Perlman. 
Claims should be sent to Avner Cohen 
at israbirding@gmail.com. See also www. 
israbirding.com/irdc where claim forms can 
be downloaded. 


102 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


JORDAN 

The Jordan Bird Records Committee 
comprises Fares Khoury (secretary), Richard 
Porter, Ian Andrews, Feras Rahahleh and 
Khaldun Al-Omari. Claims should be sent 
to Fares Khoury at avijordan2000@yahoo. 
com. JBRC has accepted the following 
records since the report in Sandgrouse 
36(2). 


Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus. One 
Aqaba 24 March 2013 (G Wichmann & G 
Zeyringer). First record. 

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres. One 
Aqaba bird observatory, 10 April 2014 (F 
Rahahleh, Plate 1). First record for ten 
years. 

Common Myna Acridotheres tristris. A pair 
Kafrein, Jordan valley, April 2014 (M 
Asfour). Fourth record. Two northeast of 
Kafrein 30 July 2014 (Plate 2) with three 




Plate I. Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres 10 April 
2014, Aqaba bird observatory, Jordan. © F Rahahleh 


Plate 2. Common Mynas Acridotheres tristris 30 July 
2014, northeast of Kafrein, Jordan valley, Jordan. © F 
Khoury 



Plate 3. Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 17 December 
2013, Aqaba palm beach, Jordan. © F Rahahleh 


Plate 4. Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 17 December 
201 3, Aqaba palm beach, Jordan. © F Rahahleh 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 103 





































at the same site 30 August 2014 (both 
sightings F Khoury). Fifth record. 

Black Scrub Robin Cercotrichas podobe. One 
Aqaba Moevenpick resort. Tala bay, 12 
April 2014 (E Hirschfeld). Fourth record. 

Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni. Two 
different birds, Aqaba palm beach, 17 
December 2013. (F Rahahleh, Plates 3 & 4). 
Fifth record. 

KUWAIT 

The Kuwait Ornithological Rarities 
Committee comprises Mike Pope (chair), 
AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan (secretary), Pekka 
Fagel, Oscar Campbel 1 (external adjudicator), 
Peter Kennerley (external adjudicator), 
Brian Foster (honorary member). Claims 
should be sent to AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan 
at alsirhan@alsirhan.com. KORC has 
accepted the following records since the 
report in Sandgrouse 36(2). 

Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi. One Sabhan 
3 August 2014 (S A1 Nouri). First record, 
but considered an escape. 

Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons. 
Seven 1st year birds seen Jahra bay (large 
influx many Gulf states including Oman, 
UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar) 1 November 
2014 (O A1 Shaheen, R A1 Hajji, Plate 5). 
Third record. 

Striated Heron Butorides striatus. One Jahra 
pools reserve 17 October 2014 (M Hamza 
Askar). Third record. 

Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo. One 
killed by hunter Kuwait city, 12 September 
2014. Ninth record. 



Plate 5. Greater White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons I 
November 2014, Jahra bay, Kuwait. © M Pope 


Red Knot Caldris canutus. One JPR 7 August 
2014 (R A1 Hajji). Third record. 

Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius. One JPR 
2 September 2014 (K A1 Ghanem). Seventh 
record. 

Black Tern Chlidonias niger. One bird Jahra 
East outfall 25 July 2014 (O A1 Shaheen). 
14th record. 

Rufous Turtle Dove Streptopelia ( orientalis ) 
meena. One JPR 9 October 2014 (O A1 
Shaheen). 12th record. 

Pallid Scops Owl Otus brucei. One A1 Abraq 
23 October 2014 (H Bourseli, M Khorshed). 
Tenth record. 

Thick-billed Lark Ramphocoris clotbey. Two 
Abuliyah KOC reserve 19 August 2014 (H 
A1 Shajji). Seventh record. 

Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola. 
One JEO 25 August 2014 (R A1 Hajji). One 
A1 Abraq 9 September 2014 (H Bourseli). 
Third & fourth records. 

OMAN 

The Oman Bird Records Committee 
comprises Jens Eriksen (recorder), Ian 
Harrison, Dave Sargeant, Graham Searle, 
John Atkins, Peter Cowan, Simon Tull, 
Waheed A1 Farsi, Zahran A1 Abdulasalam, 
Manal A1 Kindi. Claims should be sent 
to Jens Eriksen hjoman@gmail.com from 
whom claim forms can be obtained. OBRC 
has accepted the following records since the 
report in Sandgrouse 36(2). 

Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica. 
One Raysut 27 November, moving to A1 
Mughsayl 29 November-5 December (D 
Forsman & Robert Tovey). Fifth record. 

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus. One A1 
Qurm park 3 October and 12-21 November 
2014 (W Al-Fazari & D Forsman). Seventh 
record (first since 1995). 

Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii. One Raysut 
1 November 2013 (M Kuhn). First record. 

Lesser Frigatebird Fregata arid. Immature 
Hiql, Masirah, 3 November 2014 (H Buss, 
Plate 6). Sixth record. 

African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus. 
One Hadbin 19 January 2014 and one 
East Khawr 8 April-at least 6 December 
2014 (H Cook, H & J Eriksen et al, Plate 7). 
Seventh & eighth records. 


104 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 






Plate 6. Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel 3 November 
2014, Hiql, Masirah island, Oman. © H Buss 


Plate 7. African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus 22 
August 2014, Dhofar, Oman. © H&J Eriksen 




Plate 8. Watercock Gallicrex cinerea 24 February 2014, 
Al Mughsayl, Oman. © H&J Eriksen 


Plate 9. Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus I March 2014, 
Qatbit, Oman. © H&J Eriksen 


Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus. 
One Tawi Atayr 25 November 2014 (D 
Forsman). Fourth record. 

Lesser Spotted Eagle Clanga pomarina. One 
Raysut 9 December 2010 (D Forsman). 
Tenth record. 

Merlin Falco columbarius. One Sahnawt farm, 
Salalah 25 November-5 December 2014 (D 
Forsman et al). Fifth record. 

Watercock Gallicrex cinerea. One Al Mughsayl 
21 January-21 February 2014 (FI Cook, H 
& J Eriksen, Plate 8). Fifth record. 


Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola. One 
Ad Duqm 1 January 2014 (F Guepner et al). 
Third record. 

Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius. 
Juvenile Taqah 7 November 2014 (FI Buss). 
Third record. 

Grey-throated Martin Riparia chinensis. One 
Sun Farms, Sohar 23 November 2013 (J 
Atkins). Eighth record. 

Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus. One Qatbit 
24 January-1 March 2014 (H Cook, H&J 
Eriksen, Plate 9). Fifth record. 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 105 



































Eastern Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus 
orientalis. One A1 Balid farm 20 November 

2013 (I Festari). Sixth record. 

Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla. One 
Dawkah farm 23 January 2014 (H Cook). 
Fifth record. 

Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus. One 
Ayn Flamran 10 November 2013 (T Epple). 
Ninth record. 

Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla 
tschutschensis taivana. One Sun Farms, 
Sohar 20 September 2013-22 February 

2014 (J Atkins). Fifth record. 

Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps. 
One Sun Farms, Sohar 28 March 2014 (J 
Atkins). Sixth record. 

QATAR 

Qatar Bird Records Committee members are 
Keith Betton, Jamie A Buchan (Recorder), 
Neil G Morris (Secretary), Richard F Porter 
(Hon President), Simon J Tull. Claims 
should be sent to jamie_buchan@yahoo. 
com. The Qatar List defines a rarity (which 
requires a rare bird report to be submitted) as 
a taxon that has been recorded on no more 
than twenty occasions in the wild in Qatar. 
QBRC has accepted the following claims 
since the report in Sandgrouse 36(2). 

Greater White-fronted Goose Anser nlbifrons. 
Up to six Doha golf course 17 November 
2014-at least 14 January 2015 (S Price). 
Ninth record. 

Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus. One 
Irkaya farm 18-24 November 2014 (S Price 
et al). Fourth record. 

Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus. 
One Irkaya farm 8 March 2014 (D 
Pushpangadhan, S Kalliparambil). 
Twelfth record. 

Amur Falcon Falco amurensis. One juvenile 
Irkaya farm 27 October 2013 (A Sharif, J 
Thompson). Fifth record. 

Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides. One 
juvenile west Sailiyah 4 November 2014 (S 
Al Aseeri). Second record. 

Spur-winged Plover Vanellus spinosus. One 
west Sailiyah 11 November 2014 (D 
Pushpangadhan et al). Second record. 

Long-tailed Shrike Eanius schach. One Al 
Shamal park 25 October 2014 (G Farnell). 
Second record. 

Eastern Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla 
( flava) melanogrisea. Various records and 


locations of birds showing characteristics 
of this form: one west Sailiyah 25 February 

2013 (NG Morris); one Sealine beach resort 
8 April 2013 (NG Morris); one at latter 
location 22 March 2014 (NG Morris). First- 
third Qatar records. 

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES 

The Emirates Bird Records Committee 
comprises the following voting members: 
Oscar Campbell (chair), Mark Smiles 
(secretary), Simon Lloyd, Huw Roberts, 
Neil Tovey and Tommy Pedersen (UAE 
bird recorder). Ahmed Al Ali and Peter 
Hellyer are non-voting members. Records 
are circulated and assessments published 
three times per year according to the 
timetable outlined at www.uaebirding.com/ 
ebrc.html. Decisions on assessments, plus 
EBRC's constitution and information about 
the assessment process and downloadable 
report forms are all available at the same 
location. Claims, preferably on the report 
forms, should be sent to ebrcuae@gmail. 
com or to Tommy Pedersen tommypepe63@ 
gmail.com. UAE Bird Checklist, in both 
short and annotated forms, is available 
at www.uaebirding.com/uaechecklist.html 
together with recently published reports for 
2010-2013. EBRC has accepted the following 
records since the report in Sandgrouse 36(2). 

Cory's Shearwater Calonectris (diomedea) 
borealis. One seen during pelagic trip off 
Khor Kalba ,30-31 May 2014 (A Alzaabi, 
SP Lloyd, OJ Campbell et al) and another 
20 June 2014 (M Smiles, OJ Campbell et 
al). Third & fourth records, last 2011. In 
addition, a Cory's/Scopoli's Shearwater 
Calonectris ( diomedea) borealis/diomedea 
recorded 13 September 2014 (A Alzaabi). 

Wedge-tailed Shearwater Puffinus pacificus. 
One during pelagic trip off Khor Kalba 4 
July 2014 (SP Lloyd et al). Seventh record, 
last 2013. 

Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus. 
One Dubai pivot fields 15 September 

2014 (M Smiles) and one Hamraniyah 
fields 19 September 2014-at least early 
December (M Smiles). Sixteen previous 
records (last 2013) but only one previous 
September record (1994) and one previous 
October record (2001); most records mid 
November-late February. 


106 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 



Plate 10. Black Tern Chlidonias niger 12 September 
2014, Fujairah port beach, UAE. © S Lloyd 


Lesser Noddy Anous tenuirostris. One during 
pelagic trip off Khor Kalba 19 July 2014 (M 
Smiles et al). Eighth record. 

Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii. One adult 
Fujairah port beach 19 July 2014 (M Smiles 
et al) and another 30 July 2014 (D Wilby). 
Ninth & tenth records. One adult and one 
juvenile Fujairah port beach 13 September 
2014 (M Smiles et al). Eleventh record. 
Previous records mainly from marked 
influx September-October 2013. 

Black Tern Chlidonias niger. One Fujairah port 
beach 12-13 September 2014 (SP Lloyd, M 
Smiles, OJ Campbell et al , Plate 10). 16th 
record. 

Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus. 
One adult during pelagic trip off Khor 


Kalba 20 June 2014 (OJ Campbell et al ) 
and another off Fujairah port beach 14 
July 2014 (J Judas). One immature during 
pelagic trip off Khor Kalba 19 July 2014 (M 
Smiles et al). 18th-20th records. 

Pacific Swift (sensu lato) Apus pacificus. One 
Wamm farms 12 September 2014 (OJ 
Campbell, M Smiles, SP Lloyd) which 
showed characteristics strongly indicative 
of Apus (p). pacificus. Third record; last 
2002. EBRC reviewed the previous two 
records of Pacific Swift (September 1999, 
January 2002). The identification of each 
was not in doubt, however, despite detailed 
descriptions on file, it was not possible to 
assign either record definitively to taxon, 
although the September 1999 record 
showed characteristics broadly indicative 
of Apus (p). pacificus. 

Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus 
melanopogon. One Wamm farms 20 
September 2014 (OJ Campbell, SP Lloyd, 
M Smiles). 17th record, but six weeks 
earlier than any other autumn/early 
winter record. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

The following assisted in the compilation of this 
review: Colin Richardson (Cyprus), Fares Khoury 
(Jordan), Jens Eriksen (Oman), Neil Morris and 
Jamie Buchan (Qatar), Oscar Campbell and Tommy 
Pedersen (United Arab Emirates). 

Ian Harrison, Llyswen Farm, Lon y Felin, Aberaeron, 
SA46 0ED, UK. ianbirds@gmail.com 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 107 




Obituary 


Major Michael Desmond Gallagher 

MBEFRGS 

OSME was sad to learn that one of its founder 
members. Major Michael Desmond Gallagher, 
who was also an OSME Vice-President 1987- 
1997, died peacefully 27 July 2014 shortly 
before his 93rd birthday. While he is mainly 
remembered for his Birds of Oman (1980) and 
for the Oman Natural History Museum that 
he was instrumental in setting up in Muscat, 
his experiences, successes and influence in 
the world of natural history went far beyond 
these—yet 'Mike' Gallagher left school at the 
age of 18 and was entirely self-taught. 

Michael was born into a military family 
and went to schools with strong military 
links. His eighteenth birthday fell on the day 
that the Second World War was declared, 3 
September 1939. He volunteered and followed 
his father into the Royal Army Service Corps 
where his wartime service took him to Egypt, 
Tunisia and Libya followed by Sicily and 
mainland Italy before returning to Britain to 
join the Normandy landings on Juno beach 
in 1944. After the war, his army career took 
him initially to Palestine, Gibraltar and then 
Christmas island in the 1950s (he recounted 
several times the story of being ordered to 
tell his men to turn round, close their eyes 
and put their hands over their ears when 
the atom bombs were being tested). He was 
subsequently based in the Aden protectorate, 
British Guyana, Bahrain and Sharjah. His 
interest in natural history developed and 
flourished in all these locations where few 
studies had been conducted and it was after 
a year on Christmas island that he produced 
his first published papers. His bibliography 
contains a total of 114 books, scientific papers 
and articles in popular journals. These papers 
and articles appeared in eg The Lancet, Journal 
of Parasitology, Ibis, Oryx, Sandgrouse, Fauna of 
Saudi Arabia, Sea Swallow, The Journal of Oman 
Studies and Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' 
Club. 

One of the many skills that Michael 
possessed was his ability to develop networks 
of like-minded people and to encourage 
them to work together. He founded and 


became secretary of the Christmas Island 
Natural History Society; when he was posted 
to Bahrain and then Sharjah in what was 
then the Trucial states, he started the Gulf 
Birdwatchers group as well as their monthly 
newsletter (1969-1971). He was the man 
behind the Oman Bird Group and then 
Oman Bird News which he edited 1986-1998 
(volumes 1-21). In the very first cyclostyled 
one page issue he wrote "The enclosed list 
of birdwatchers will enable you to keep in 
touch with others, and to make contact if 
you visit their patch." He developed this into 
a glossy production, complete with colour 
photographs. If he thought it worthwhile 
and important, he would support different 
specialist societies. For example, in addition 
to becoming an OSME life member as well as 
Vice-President, he was a staunch supporter of 
the Royal Naval Birdwatching Society for over 
30 years and was their local representative 
for the Persian gulf and Arabian sea 1982- 
1996. He was the prime mover behind the 
development of the Oman Bird Records 
Committee. Together with Ralph Daly, 
Adviser to the Sultan for the Conservation 
of the Environment as Chair, himself as 
Secretary, Michael set up this committee to 
examine claims of rare bird sightings. The 
committee was also responsible for ensuring 
the careful recording of all sightings, 
something that Michael excelled in. This was 
initially kept meticulously on a card index 
but is now an electronic database. Without 
him, this database would not be as complete 
as it is today. 

It was during his time in Bahrain and 
Sharjah that he led several scientific groups 
into the desert and the mountains in the 
east—notably Exercise Tayur Watch in 1970 
and Exercise Lapwing in 1971. He was able 
to travel in comparative comfort since he 
used these expeditions as training exercises 
for the troops under his command so that 
his tent and bed were erected, his meals 
cooked, his kit neatly laid out while he was 
out collecting or later skinning specimens 
(his bird skinning skills were described as 
exceptional). It was also during this period 


108 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


that he produced A Guide to the Birds of 
Bahrain with Mike Strickland (1969) and Birds 
of Bahrain with Terry Rogers (1973). In 1973 he 
led a reconnaissance expedition to study an 
area of the Jebel A1 Akhdar in Oman with a 
view to establishing a national park for the 
endangered Arabian Tahr. The following year 
he was selected to join the 1974-1975 Zaire 
River Expedition as both a quartermaster 
and vertebrate biologist; he was able in fact to 
bridge the military and the scientific sides of 
the expedition and won the respect of both. 

While still in the army, he was invited 
to lead the 1975 Flora and Fauna survey to 
Jebel Akhdar—this was an opportunity to 
assemble diverse teams of expertise with a 
mandate to fully explore the area and really 
understand its wildlife and its inhabitants. Fie 
retired from the army in 1976 but was invited 
back to Oman the following year to work in 
the Office of the Adviser to the Sultan for the 
Environment. From there he organised the 
second Flora and Fauna survey, this time to 
Dhofar in 1977, an area of Oman that was only 
emerging from a long war with communist 
insurgents. Michael's final 'official' expedition 
was the Royal Geographical Society's Wahiba 
Sands Expedition (1985-1987) on which he 
was a pivotal member and was described as 
a consummate field naturalist—passionate, 
diligent, highly knowledgeable and very hard 
working in the field. It was recognised that 
his training as a soldier and his passion as a 
naturalist made a strong combination. 

He was tasked in 1977 to write a book 
describing the birds of Oman. This was not 
a simple undertaking since it had to be 
authoritative despite starting from a very 
small pool of existing information. In 
addition to museum specimens, newsletters 
and notes made by previous birdwatchers, 
some published, most still in the form of 
original notes, he consulted both the few 
expatriate amateur naturalists present in the 
country and Omanis, many of whom spoke 
only Arabic or one of the other southern 
Arabian languages, from the remoter areas 
of Oman where many of the lesser known 
birds were to be found. There was the 
added complication that the names used 
by these Omani observers, who knew their 
area extremely well, were often used only 
locally and did not necessarily appear on 



Plate 1. Mike Gallagher in the Oman desert with a 
Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis on his arm, 
1978. This raven was a friendly camp follower for 
a couple of days, and roosted on MW's suitcase. © 
Martin Woodcock 

any existing list of Arabic names. It seemed 
an impossible challenge but one grasped by 
Michael (Plate 1) with his customary vigour 
and meticulousness. When Birds of Oman 
was published in 1980, illustrated by Martin 
Woodcock, it rightly became the standard 
reference for the area and was cited in 
numerous subsequent papers and reference 
books. In addition to detailed information 
on the identification of each species, the 
book contained seasonal distribution ranges 
and breeding information; but it went 
beyond ornithology and covered the ecology 
of Oman, and its determinants of geology, 
geomorphology, climate and propitious 
location. An Arabic edition was published a 
few years later. 

His lasting legacy in Oman must be the 
Natural History Museum, opened in 1985, 
which is visited by large numbers of school 
parties, tourists and Oman residents—without 
his tenacity and dedication, the different halls 
would never have been created or contain 
such detailed information. In addition to 
the specimens that he collected himself, he 
persuaded his numerous contacts to bring 
in dead birds, bats, reptiles, mammals or 
invertebrates that they had found or trapped. 
The whale hall that was opened in 1994 as part 
of the museum expansion contains a whale 
that he had persuaded a road contractor 
to bury on the beach; three years later he 
arranged for it to be dug out and transported 
to the museum before flensing, boiling and 
drying prior to reassembling it and hanging 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 109 

















Plate 2. Michael at Buckingham Palace, having just 
been appointed a Member of the Most Excellent 
Order of the British Empire (MBE) at the Investiture 
ceremony held on 5 May 1994 (photographer 
unknown). 

the whole skeleton from the ceiling using an 
ingenious system of pulleys and ropes to raise 
the two ton skull. As part of the Museum he 
established the National Herbarium of Oman 
and its associated Botanic Garden, as well 
as the shell and coral collections, the insect, 
invertebrate, fossil, osteological and other 
collections. 

Perhaps the most important indicator 
of Michael's contribution to Middle Eastern 
zoology is the number of species that include 
his name. Very few biologists end their careers 
with even one species that honours them 
either through their having discovered it or 


having it named after them as a tribute by a 
third party. There are 30 species or subspecies 
that end in gallagheri, a remarkable and 
lasting testimony to his contribution; these 
include one scorpion, one pseudoscorpion, 
one crustacean, 19 insects, two molluscs, one 
bat, one rodent, two geckos, a fish and one 
plant. Moreover, the bat that he collected on 
the Zaire River Expedition in 1974, Tadarida 
gallagheri, is still the only specimen in any 
museum or collection. 

In 1998 Michael retired from Oman to his 
house on Pagham beach, Sussex, that consisted 
of three railway carriages cleverly joined 
together and of which he was inordinately 
proud. He remained active in his retirement, 
regularly exhausting his many visitors as he 
took them on long walks along the shingle 
and round Pagham harbour, pointing out 
things of geological, ornithological, cultural 
and historical interest. He suffered a stroke 
in 2010 but was able to return to his home for 
a couple of years before having to move into a 
nursing home in Chichester. 

Michael's contribution to Zoology in the 
Middle East was recognised publicly. He was 
elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical 
Society in 1975 and was then awarded the 
Zoological Society of London's Stamford 
Raffles Award for 1983. In the 1993 New 
Year's Honours List he was awarded the 
MBE "for services to wildlife conservation in 
Oman" (Plate 2) and in 1995 he was elected 
Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London. 
When he left Oman in 1998 his achievements 
were celebrated with a seminar, resulting in 
a book in his honour The Natural History of 
Oman. A Festschrift for Michael Gallagher (1999). 
Michael never married and was predeceased 
by his two sisters. 

Ian Harrison 


110 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 














Obituary 


PAD Hollom 

Phil Hollom (1912-2014, Plate 1), gentle Phil. 
Quiet, somewhat shy, great fun and good 
company. A twinkling eye, wicked sense of 
humour and rather boyish, slightly coy, smile 
masked a remarkable determination and 
pioneering spirit. His seemingly diffident 
approach belied a steely man of vision and 
achievement in the neglected fields of bird 
identification and distribution. If you had 
asked him what his favourite part of the 
world was, he would surely have replied, 'the 
Middle East/ 

Other obituaries have done great justice 
to Phil's long, very full life and great 
achievements (see eg that by Ian Wallace in 
December 2014 British Birds), so here I will 
concentrate on the contribution he made to 
Middle East ornithology. However, one earlier 
achievement outside that region deserves 
special mention. Those of us venturing to the 
Middle East prior to the 1980s had precious 
little bird identification material to consult. 
Although it only extended to the Turkish/ 



Plate I. Phil Hollom, Iran, May 1968 (photographer 
unknown). 


Greek border, A Field Guide to the Birds of 
Britain and Europe with Guy Mountfort and 
artist, Roger Tory Peterson, first published in 
1954, was an essential companion. Translated 
into 12 languages, and with a number of 
revised editions, it set the standard for future 
bird guides and, for at least four decades, was 
the book to carry in the field. 

Ever keen to make identification material 
available to the generation of birdwatchers 
who were then starting to travel outside 
Europe, Phil translated Etchecopar & Hue's 
Les Oiseaux du Nord de'l Afrique (1964) into 
English and so The Birds of North Africa 
swiftly followed in 1967. He had planned 
also to translate their Les Oiseaux du Proche 
ei du Moyen Orient into English, but instead, 
in 1988, found himself the senior author of 
Birds of the Middle East and North Africa. Later, 
when Birds of the Middle East (a comprehensive 
guide solely devoted to the Middle East) was 
being hatched, Phil declined an offer to be 
a co-author as he was heavily committed to 
the nine volume Birds of the Western Palearctic 
(BWP), as well as then being an octogenarian. 
So the authors paid tribute to him: Dedicated 
to PAD Hollom, a pioneer of modern bird 
identification and a friend of the Middle East. 

Phil travelled widely in the region 
on ornithological expeditions (Plate 2). 
Favourites were remoter parts of Turkey and 
Iran (where in the early 1970s he travelled 
on the plane sporting fashionably flared 
trousers). In 1963 he was a member of the 



Plate 2. Phil Hollom (right) and Stanley 
Cramp surveying the now drained Amik Golu, 
southeast Turkey, May 1970. © RF Porter 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 111 



























Plate 3. Phil Hollom sound recording at dawn from his Plate 4. Phil Hollom sound recording at Mashad, Iran, 

sleeping bag, southern Turkey, May 1970. © RF Porter April 1972. © RF Porter 


expedition to Jordan which resulted in his 
close friend Guy Mountfort's book. Portrait 
of a Desert. Phil took part in all these early 
'Mountfort' expeditions, which kindled the 
urge to travel in many of us, I know it did me. 
Two decades later, in 1985, he took part in the 
Ornithological Society of the Middle East's 
expedition to North Yemen, playing football 
against a local children's team up at 3000 m 
in the spectacular backdrop of the mountains 
of Mahwit. 

Going back further to his flying days 
in the second world war, he used to bring 
back boxes of dates from North Africa for 
the legendary, and sadly now discredited, 
Richard Meinertzhagen. I've often wondered 
how Phil felt about the Colonel's fraudulent 
activities once they were exposed. I never 
asked him, but I suspect being the gentleman 
that he was, he would have kept his thoughts 
to himself and not joined the ranks of those 
condemning him. 

Phil was a very keen and competent 
sound recordist (Plates 3 & 4) and in later 
years recording bird vocalisations became his 
main focus in the field. The many sonograms 
in BWP pay tribute to this. 

Soon after the Ornithological Society of 
Turkey was launched in 1968, Phil joined 


its council and later became chairman of 
its records and editorial committee, which 
published the first OST bird reports and 
the Check List of the Birds of Turkey (1971). 
When the OST evolved into OSME in 
1978, Phil was made a vice-president, and 
then joined OSME's council and editorial 
committee in 1990. Many an OST and OSME 
council meeting and AGM were held in the 
boardroom at Bowmaker House in London, 
where Phil would modestly describe his day- 
job as 'playing around with a little banking!' 

Let's go back to 1959 when the British 
Birds' Rarities Committee was established, 
a jury of ten to assess reports of rare birds 
in Britain. Phil was its mentor and first 
chairman. Now, some 55 years later many 
rarities committees have been established 
around the world based on the workings 
and principles of BBRC, seven at least in the 
Middle East. Their role? I suggest 'to maintain 
standards.' Of that Phil would have been 
proud. 

To me he was a good friend, an entertaining 
travelling companion, an excellent host, a 
mentor. A true English gentleman. 

Richard Porter 


112 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 



















News & Information 

Dawn Balmer (compiler) 


CYPRUS 

Important Bird Areas of Cyprus 

BirdLife Cyprus launched a new publication 
Important Bird Areas of Cyprus in autumn 2014. 
The book documents the 34 priority sites for 
bird conservation across the entire island. The 
main objective of the project is to establish an 
IBA Caretakers' Network for the 34 IBAs in 
Cyprus. IBAs are sites recognized by BirdTife 
International according to internationally 
agreed scientific criteria for their importance for 
birds. This network of volunteers will play an 
active role in the protection of those important 
sites for biodiversity, through monitoring the 
threats, the birds that live there and taking 
action for their protection. By becoming IBA 
Caretakers, people concerned about nature 
near where they live will be able to channel 
their concern in a dynamic, constructive and 
empowering way. Through this project BirdTife 
Cyprus will provide the volunteers with the 
necessary materials, essential information and 
training in nature conservation issues, bird 
identification, protected area management 
issues, as well as public awareness, to 
become watchdogs of their local IBA. This 
inventory, which is the result of a rigorous and 
exhaustive 3-year assessment period (2010- 
2012) involving extensive field work across 
Cyprus and analysis of all available data, was 
compiled following BirdTife International's 
IBA criteria and represents a key instrument 
for bird conservation in Cyprus. (Source: 
BirdTife Cyprus) 

Griffon Vultures counted 

On 15th December 2014 fifteen volunteers 
and staff from BirdTife Cyprus and the 
Game Fund, took part in the annual count 
in Cyprus of Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus, 
distributed over seven survey lookout 
points in the western part of the island. 
Once common. Griffon Vultures decreased 
significantly on the eastern Mediterranean 
island and were on the verge of extinction, 
victims to poison, direct persecution and 


lack of food —in 2010 only 10 birds and two 
regular breeding pairs remained. In 2010, a 
project to reinforce the population with birds 
from Crete was implemented by the Game 
Fund, with BirdTife Cyprus, the Department 
of Forestry, the Natural History Museum of 
Crete and Gortyna Municipality Crete. In total 
25 Griffon Vultures from Crete, mostly birds 
that entered rehabilitation centres because 
they were found weak, lost or poisoned, 
arrived in Cyprus and 10 have already been 
released after time in acclimatization cages. 
This was complemented by anti-poisoning 
campaigns and the establishment of two new 
feeding sites for vultures. A total of 15 birds 
were counted in the western part of the 
island; at least 5 of them were birds originally 
from Crete, as these have wing tags. (Source: 
Vulture Conservation Foundation) 

ISRAEL 

Champions of the Flyway 2015 

The second Champions of the Flyway 24-hour 
bird race event will take place in Eilat 15-22 
March. The competing teams will attempt to 
raise money and awareness for the prevention 
of the widespread illegal killing of migratory 
birds of prey. The 2014 project was focused 
on the Batumi bottleneck area in Georgia and 
the teams involved helped raise close to $60 
000, from hundreds of individual donations 
and sponsors. Most of the money raised was 
channeled via Birdlife International to Bird 
Conservation Georgia and is already helping 
to address hunting issues there. As financial 
targets were greatly exceeded, the extra 
funding raised is now helping BirdTife Malta 
address illegal hunting issues too. You can 
read more and sponsor teams online at www. 
champions-of-the-flyway.com. 

LEBANON 

Bird Identification Manual 

A Bird Identification Manual has been published 
by the Society for the Protection of Nature in 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 113 


Lebanon. It is an important tool for training 
and improving the skills of local birdwatchers. 
As well as sections on bird identification, 
there are important chapters on migration, 
threatened species and conservation. The 
book can be downloaded for free at www. 
spnl.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Bird- 
Identification-Manual-Low.pdf. 

Soaring Bird Atlas launched 

Migratory Soaring Birds Lebanon and the 
Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon 
has just launched a major Atlas on the Soaring 
Birds. The publication, collated & edited by 
Assad Adel Serhal, Bassima Chafic Khatib, 
Ghassan Ramadan Jaradi & Zeina Kasem 
Badran, aims to map through the presence/ 
occurrence and the distribution of a group of 
species, the Migratory Soaring Birds (MSBs), 
across Lebanon. The great value of this Atlas 
is its comprehensive coverage—it covers most 
parts of the country, all migratory soaring 
bird species on autumn and spring passage. 
The Atlas can be downloaded for free at 
www.spnl.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/ 
Soaring-Birds-Atlas.pdf. 

Fieldguide to the Soaring Birds in 
Lebanon 

This book is an important resource collating 
all available scientific data for identifying 
migratory soaring bird species in Lebanon. 
Eight chapters cover a range of subjects 
including identification of migratory soaring 
birds and conservation status of species. The 
fieldguide can be downloaded for free at 
www.spnl.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/ 
Field-Guide-to-the-soaring-Birds-in-Lebanon. 
pdf. 

OMAN 

Egyptian Vultures 

Two Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus 
were trapped in early January at the main 
Muscat municipal rubbish dump. The birds 
were both fitted with 40 g solar powered 
satellite transmitters; these transmitters 
operate on a duty schedule uploading GPS 
locations via satellite and use the Argos 
satellites system to calculate, with lower 
accuracy than GPS, bird locations. You 
can find out more about the project and 


follow the birds' movements online at http:// 
egyptianvultureoman.blogspot.co.at. 

QATAR 

Irkaya Farm protected 

The Qatar Government's Cabinet of Ministers 
has formally approved the protection of Irkaya 
Farm as a site of exceptional biodiversity in 
Qatar. Once drafted into legislation, this will 
mean that all forms of hunting will be banned 
on the site. Moreover an active programme 
of conservation, habitat development 
and management, as well as research and 
education will get underway. A visitor centre 
and interpretation facilities plus a dedicated 
education facility on site at the farm for 
schools and colleges are being planned. 

TURKEY 

Poisoning of vultures 

At least four Eurasian Black Vultures Aegypius 
monachus and two Griffon Vultures Gyps 
fnlvus have been found poisoned in eastern 
Turkey in mid January. The birds were 
discovered near the rubbish dump at Tuzluca, 
close to the Armenian border. There has been 
cooperation between local people, a local 
NGO (KuzeyDoga), the Turkish National 
Parks and Vulture Conservation Foundation 
and two birds were saved from death. The 
Vulture Conservation Foundation experts 
suggest that the birds were poisoned probably 
with carbamate or an organophosphate. 

GENERAL 

Review of illegal killing in the 
Mediterranean 

BirdLife International have announced that the 
preliminary results from the review of illegal 
killing in the Mediterranean are now available 
online for public consultation. The document 
can be viewed online at www.birdlife.org/ 
globally-threatened-bird-forums/2014/10/ 
review-of-illegal-killing-and-taking-of-birds- 
in-the-mediterranean. 

Dawn Balmer, 7 Fisher Way, Thetford, 
Norfolk IP24 2LD, UK. dawn.balmer@bto.org 


114 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Around the Region 

Ian Harrison & Chris Lamsdell (compilers) 

Records in Around the Region are published for interest only; their inclusion does not 
imply acceptance by the records committee of the relevant country. All records refer 
to 2014 unless stated otherwise. 

Records and photographs for Sandgrouse 37 (2) should be sent by 1 June to atr@osme. 
org. 


AZERBAIJAN 

This paragraph's records October 2013. 
A Rough-legged Buzzard Buteo lagopus Besh 
Barmag 4 Oct (in a 90 min raptor watch, 
which produced 18 raptor species including 
six eagle spp). A Saker Falcon Falco 
cherrug Kizil Agach 9 Oct. One Sociable 
Lapwing Vanellus gregarius and seven White¬ 
tailed Lapwings Vanellus leucurus Haji Gaboul 

7 Oct. A Daurian Shrike Lanins isabellinus Kizil 
Agach 9 Oct. One Green Warbler Phylloscopus 
nitidus and a male Desert Wheatear Oenanthe 
deserti (probably third modern record) Besh 
Barmag 6 Oct. Four Wallcreepers Tichodroma 
muraria Xinaliq 5 Oct. At least ten Citrine 
Wagtails Motacilla citreola Kizil Agach 9 Oct 
and one Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi Besh 
Barmag 6 Oct. 

The following records are 2014, first a visit 
7-11 May, second a migration count Besh 
Barmag 10 Oct-7 Nov, which recorded more 
than 1.3 million birds of 212 spp. Total 17 
Caucasian Grouse Lyrurus mlokosiewiczi Laza 

8 May while several Caucasian Snowcocks 
Tetraogallus caucasicns Xinaliq, Greater 
Caucasus, 7 May. Total 85 Lesser White- 
fronted Geese Anser erythropus BB migration 
count 10 Oct-7 Nov. Several Shikras Accipiter 
badius■ at known breeding site near Masalli 
10-11 May. Two Saker Falcons Falco cherrug, 
four Sociable Lapwings Vanellus gregarius 
and a Caspian Plover Charadrius asiaticus 
BB migration count. 20 Terek Sandpipers 
Xenus cinereus Kizil Agach 10 May while 
what may be first record of Grey Phalarope 
Phalaropus fidicarius there 31 Oct. Seven White¬ 
winged Larks Melanocorypha leucopterus 
and possibly first record of Dusky Warbler 
Phylloscopus fuscatus (11 Oct) BB migration 
count. A Blyth's Reed Warbler Acrocephalus 
dumetorum Kizil Agach 11 May and a Desert 


Wheatear Oenanthe deserti there 31 Oct. 

Pair Giildenstadt's Redstart Phoenicurus 
erythrogastrus Xinaliq 7 May. Six Richard's 
Pipits Anthus richardi BB migration count. 
Six Caucasian Great Rosefinches Carpodacus 
rubicilla Xinaliq 7 May and single Pine Bunting 
Emberiza leucephalus BB migration count. 

BAHRAIN 

Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius nest 
with chicks 24 Mar (first breeding record). 
A Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola 



Plate I . Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola 28 
November 2014, Alba marsh, Bahrain. © J Babbington 



Plate 2. Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens 13 
December 2014, Bahrain. © A Al Kaabi 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 115 














trapped/ringed 28 Nov Alba marsh (Plate 
1), second record. A wintering Mourning 
Wheatear Oenanthe lugens (Plate 2) returned 
13 Dec to same location where trapped/ringed 
December 2013. 

CYPRUS 

An Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca 
Asprokremmos dam 19 Jun-31 Oct, fourth 
Cyprus record since 1958. 110 Ferruginous 
Ducks Ay thy a nyroca Agia Eirini dam 13 Oct. A 
Greater Scaup Aythya marila Asprokremmos 
dam 4-5 Dec, seventh record, while a 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala 
Larnaca sewage treatment plant 5-6 Dec 
was 14th Cyprus record. A Great Crested 
Grebe Podiceps cristatus Kanli dam 14 Sep 
was surprisingly early. First record Striated 
Heron Butorides striata (a juvenile) Zakaki 
marsh 23 Oct-at least 31 Dec. One Black¬ 
winged Kite Elanus caeruleus Morphou 9 
Nov, second record. Single Egyptian Vultures 
Neophron percnopterns at Bishops pool 9 Sep 
and Zakaki marsh 18 Sep. A juvenile Levant 
Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes Akrotiri 6 Oct 
(fewer than ten last decade). Lesser Spotted 
Eagle Aquila pomarina accidental but annual 
visitor: one Famagusta 21 Sep, one Akrotiri 
peninsula 27 Sep, three there 6 Oct with one 
remaining to 15 Oct and one Asprokremmos 
dam 7 Oct. A Saker Falcon Falco cherrug 
Akrotiri salt lake 10 Oct. 

Single Corncrake Crex crex Agia Napa 
sewage works 4 Sep. One shot there 19 
Sep and singles shot in Agia Napa area 15 
and 21 Sep. One Phasouri reed-bed area 
9-13 Oct. Demoiselle Crane Grus virgo 
passage Akrotiri SL peaked at 71 on 28 
Aug. A Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus 
ostralegus, a less than annual migrant, Polis 
beach 8 Jul while two there 19 Aug. Single 
Broad-billed Sandpipers Limicola falcinellus 
Lady's mile 28 Jul and 30 Aug-9 Sep and a 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica Clapsides 
beach, Famagusta, 14-16 Sep (22nd record). 
Seventh record Black-legged Kittiwake 
Rissa tridactyla, a juvenile, Mackenzy beach 
harbour, Larnaca, 7-26 Dec. One first winter 
Great Black-headed Gull Lams ichthyaetus 
Larnaca airport pools (south) 19-21 Dec and 
a different bird, there 23 Dec (this species 
increasingly occurring but still less-than- 
annual visitor). Only autumn record of Stock 


Dove Columba oenas, a rare winter visitor, two 
birds Zakaki marsh 20 Oct. 

An Isabelline Shrike Lanins isabellinus , 
less than annual visitor, Agia Napa SW 30 Jul. 
Two Northern Ravens Corvus corax Platres 21 
Nov were first sightings Troodos forest since 
2008. Second record Desert Lark Ammomanes 
deserti Akhna dam 14 Aug. A Yellow-browed 
Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus Mandria 25 
Sep was 15th Cyprus record. Second record 
Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola 
ringed Polis reed-beds 16 Sep while Marsh 
Warblers Acrocephalus palustris reported 
Agia Napa SW 30 Aug and Armou hills 22 
Sep. Savi's Warblers Locustella luscinioides 
heard Phasouri reed-beds 23 Aug and singles 
ringed Polis reed-beds 9 and 26 Sep and 2 
Oct (uncommon passage migrant). Barred 
Warblers Sylvia nisoria peaked at 10 Agia 
Napa SW 4 Sep, an unusually large number. 
Second record Menetries's Warbler Sylvia 
mystacea Agia Napa SW 30 Jul. 

Up to three Wallcreepers Tichodroma 
muraria Avagas gorge 23 Nov-early Dec. A 
juvenile Rose-coloured Starling Pastor roseus, 
a less than annual visitor, cape Greco 26 Aug. 
One Redwing Turdus iliacus , a rare autumn 
migrant, Troodos forest 10 and 18 Nov while 
a Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush Monticola 
saxatilis, a less than annual winter visitor, 
Akhna dam 6 Sep. Eleven Rock Sparrows 
Petronia petronia Avagas gorge 7 Nov, with 
singles Arodes 8 Nov and cape Greco 1 Dec 
(fewer than 15 previous records). A Common 
Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus Acheliea 
soakaways, lower Ezousas valley, 17 Nov, 
was 10th record. A large autumn passage 
of Hawfinches Coccothraustes coccothraustes, 
maximum counts 43 Tsada 28 Oct and 44 
Armou 2 Nov. Up to ten Yellowhammers 
Emberiza citrinella (fewer than 15 previous 
records since 1992) Troodos area 10 Nov-25 
Dec in a mixed flock of buntings that also 
included Pine Buntings Emberiza leucocephalos 
(maximum 10, eighth record). Two, possibly 
three Western Cinereous Buntings Emberiza 
cineracea Agia Napa SW 30 Aug-3 Sep. 

EGYPT 

Five Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus 
Kutanii, south of Jebel Elba, 11 Aug and 25 
Port Said early Oct. A Brown Booby Sula 
leucogaster Hurghada 28 Sep. At least one 


116 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


pair Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles 
exustus south of Halayeib (Jebel Elba) June 
2013. A Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus Wadi 
Markwan (Elba national park) 25 Sep and 
a Eurasian Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus St 
Katherine (Sinai) 1 Dec. One Pallid Harrier 
Circus macrourus Abu Simbel 11 Nov and an 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca Sharm 
18 Nov. A Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus 
Elba NP November and one Barbary Falcon 
Fnlco pelegrinoides Abu Simbel 11 Nov. At 
least one pair Black-crowned Sparrow-Larks 
Eremopterix nigriceps Jebel Elba 11 Dec, a 
Black Scrub-robin Cercotrichias podobe south 
of Halaib 23 Nov and one Hooded Wheatear 
Oenanthe monacha Elba NP November. A 
singing African Pied Wagtail Motncilla aguimp 
Abu Simbel 11 Nov and six Indian Silverbills 
Euodice malabarica near Jebel Shisa, between 
the High and Old dams, Aswan, 27 Oct. 

GEORGIA 

High counts of European Honey Buzzards 

Pernis apivorus Saghalvasho: 81 666 on 28 
Aug, 52 177 on 31 Aug, 91 536 on 4 Sep 
and 88 308 on 7 Sep. Single Crested Honey 
Buzzards Pernis ptilorhynchus various dates 
Shuamta 3-19 Sep, max three 17 Sep. Singles 
Saghalvasho 8, 15, 22 and 23 Sep and two 
14 Sep. 790 Western Marsh Harriers Circus 
aeruginosus passed Saghalvasho 2 Oct while 
1527 Levant Sparrowhawks Accipiter brevipes 
seen Shuamta 7 Sep. 33 318 Steppe Buzzards 



Plate 3. Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 15 
September 2014, Chorokhi delta, Georgia. © DK Lamsdell 


Buteo b. vulpinus Shuamta 22 Sep, 35 812 on 

26 Sep and 178 116 on 2 Oct, with 93 467 
Saghalvasho 2 Oct. 221 Booted Eagles Aquila 
pennata Shuamta and 847 Saghalvasho 17 Sep. 
2130 Demoiselle Cranes over Dedoplistkaro 
region 22 Sep. A single Sociable Lapwing 
Vanellus gregarius Chorokhi delta 18 Sep and 
two 30 Sep. First record Lesser Sand Plover 
Charadrius atrifrons Kolkheti national park 
3 Sep. One juvenile Great Black-headed 
Gull Earns ichthyaetus Chorokhi delta 10 
Oct. A White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon 
smyrnensis Batumi airport area 27 Sep. Blue¬ 
cheeked Bee-eaters Merops persicus Chorokhi 
delta: singles 15 Sep and two 16 Sep. Seventh 
record Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 
trapped 15 Sep Chorokhi delta (Plate 3). First 
record Radde's Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi 
ringed Shuamta 6 Oct. 

IRAQ 

Several Shore Larks Eremophila alpestris 
Halgurd mountain c2365 m asl 5-15 Jun. 
Radde's Accentors Prunella ocularis Shireen 
mountain, Barzan, May. 

ISRAEL 

Sixth record Lesser White-fronted Goose 

Anser erythropus Kfar Barukh reservoir, 
Jizreel valley, 10 Nov-end Dec and a Greater 
Scaup Aythya marila Rosh Hanikra, north 
Mediterranean coast, 30 Dec. One Red¬ 
breasted Merganser Mergus senator Acre 4-20 
Nov. A Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus 
off North beach, Eilat, first found 27 May, but 
not definitely identified until June where it 
remained until 20th (first record). One Leach's 
Petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa off Hasharon 
beach 19 Dec. Second record Lesser Flamingo 
Phoenicopterus minor km20 saltpans, Eilat, 14 
Nov-end Dec (first record at same site March 
2006). Two Red-billed Tropicbirds Phaethon 
aethereus off Eilat's NB 7 Jul with a single there 

27 Jul. One Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis 
Tirat Zvi, Bet Shean valley 20-21 Jun and 
another near Yokneam, west Jizreel valley 
8-31 Aug. More than 15 Oriental Honey 
Buzzards Pernis ptilorhynchus recorded by 
SPNI raptor count team central Israel 7-25 
Sep. Three Cinereous Vultures Aegypius 
monachus Gamla nature reserve Dec and 
singles Mount Gilboa Dec and near Kiryat Gat 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 117 









11-12 Dec. Second record Ruppell's Vulture 
Gyps rueppellii (an adult) Gamla 15 Jul. 

One Crab Plover Dromas ardeola Ma'agan 
Michael 26 Jun (fourth record) and a Lesser 
Sandplover Charadrius atrifrons there 20-25 
Jul (sixth record). A Greater Painted-snipe 
Rostratula ( b .) benghalensis Nizzana 29 Sep 
and a Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius 
Timorom, south Judean plains, 31 Dec. 
A Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 
Ashdod 28 Nov, Norwegian colour-ringed, 
first confirmed record ssp graelsii Israel. One 
Swift Tern Thalasseus bergii Eilat 22 Sep and 
a Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis 
off Eilat's NB 28 Jun, six there 6 Aug and two 
22 Sep. Two Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea off 
Eilat's NB 7 Aug. An Oriental Turtle Dove 
Streptopelia orientalis meena Yotvata, 6-7 Nov 
and a Pallid Scops Owl Otus brncei ringed 
IBRCE, Eilat, 9 Dec. Three Egyptian Nightjars 
Caprimulgus aegyptins Yotvata 10 Dec. About 
ten Daurian Shrikes Lanins isabellinus seen 
October with most Bet Shean valley, but also 
at Hatzor and Eilat (two) while a Turkestan 
Shrike Lanins (isabellinus ) phoenicuroides Tirat 
Zvi, Bet Shean valley, 30 Aug. First record 
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus kibbutz 
Gan Shmuel, north coastal plains, 3 Dec and 
there again 13-17 Dec. 

A female Black-crowned Sparrow- 
lark Eremopterix nigriceps Yotvata 26 Oct-7 
Nov. Up to four Oriental Skylarks Alauda 
gulgula Yotvata October and a Dunn's 
Lark Eremalauda dunni Wadi Zin, central 
Negev, 14 Jun. Yellow-browed Warbler 
Phylloscopus inornatus : total of nine October 
and ten November at various locations while 
Hume's Leaf Warblers Phylloscopus humei 
at Nafha 20-22 Nov, Tivon 29 Nov and one 
at kibbutz Gvulot, northwest Negev, 5-31 
Dec. Ninth record Common Grasshopper 
Warbler Locustella naevia ringed Yeruham 
22 Aug. A Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus 
Nafha, central Negev, 20-22 Nov while a 
Kurdistan Wheatear Oenanthe xanthoprymna 
mount Gilboa 15 Nov-end Dec and another 
mt Meron, upper Galilee, 15 Nov. A Radde's 
Accentor Prunella ocidaris Beer Sheva 12 Dec, 
two Elrom, Golan heights, 5-31 Dec, another 
Gamla 13-31 Dec and one Tkoa, Judean hills, 
30 Dec. Two Red-fronted Serins Serinus 
pusillus mt Hermon 4 Jul and three Elrom 
5 Dec. A Common Rosefinch Carpodacus 


erythrinus ringed IBRCE, Eilat, 10 Sep while 
two near Tel Aviv 14 Sep and another Eilat 15 
Oct. Two Red Crossbills Eoxia curvirostra Tel 
Mond, Heffer valley and six Ramat Hovav, 
north Negev, 11 Nov (first records since 
1994). A Pine Bunting Emberiza leucocephalos 
Tel Hazeka, Golan heights, 1 Dec. One Little 
Bunting Emberiza pusilla ringed Tsor'a 20 Nov 
and another ringed Neve Eitan, Bet Shean 
valley, 5 Dec while a Rustic Bunting Emberiza 
rustica was near km20 saltpans, Eilat, 21 Nov. 

KAZAKHSTAN 

A Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus Shoshkaly 
lake, Naurzum reserve, 11 Sep and a Long¬ 
billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus 
Sorbulak lakes, Almaty region, 7 Sep. One 
Little Gull Larus minutus there 5 Oct while a 
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida there 21 
Jun. A Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus 
there 24 Sep. A Great Grey Shrike Lanins 
borealis mollis Katon-Karagay, Vostochno 
Kazakhstan oblast, east Kazakhstan, 13 
Sep. A Hume's Short-toed lark Calandrella 
acustirostris Karzhantau 17 Jul. One Pallas's 
Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus 
Dzhabagly village, south Kazakhstan, 27 Oct 
and a Hume's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus 
humei Karamendy village, Naurzum region, 
Kostanay oblast, 18 Oct. One Goldcrest Regulus 
regulus Tuzbair spring, Mangystau oblast, 19 
Oct. A Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus 
Karamendy village, Naurzum region, 13 Sep. 
A Pied Stonechat Saxicola caprata rossorum 
lower Ural river, Atyrau region, 22 Jun. One 
Black-throated Accentor Prunella a. atrogularis 
Karamendy village, Naurzum region, 20 
Oct. An Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 
Sarsenbay, Katon, 20 Jul while a Buff-bellied 
Pipit Anthus ( rubescens ) japonicus Vostochno 
Kazakhstan oblast, east Kazakhstan, also that 
day. 

KUWAIT 

Three Eastern Greylag Geese Anser a. 
rubrirostris Jahra pools reserve 28 Dec while 
third record of Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias 
minor 6 Nov at the Free Zone. Second record 
White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus JPR 
11 Dec while eighth record Sociable Lapwing 
Vanellus gregarius Jahra East outfall 6 Nov. 
A Pallid Scops Owl Otus brucei Um Niqqa 
7 Dec (11th record) and one Long-eared 


118 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 



Plate 4. Long-eared Owl Asio otus 5 December 2014, Al 
Abraq, Kuwait. © AbdulRahman Al Sirhan 



Plate 5. Fieldfare Turdus pilaris 28 November 2014, 
Jahra pools reserve, Kuwait. © AbdulRahman Al Sirhan 



Plate 6. Purple Sunbird Cinnyris asiaticus 12 November 
2014, Khiran, Kuwait. © Khalaf Al Fahad 



Plate 7. Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 8 December 
2014, Al Abraq, Kuwait. © Mohammed Khorshed 


Sandgronse 37 (2015) 119 
































Plate 8. Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes 6 
November 2014, Jahra East outfall, Kuwait. © Mohammed 
Khorshed 



Plate 9. Rock Bunting Emberiza cia 2 December 2014, 
Al Abraq, Kuwait. © Mohammed Khorshed 


Owl Asio otus 5 Dec Al Abraq (Plate 4, fifth 
record). Fifth record Hume's Leaf Warbler 
Phylloscopus humei Al Abraq 20 Nov while 
second record Goldcrest Regulns regulus there 
1 Dec. Eighth record Ring Ouzel Turdus 
torquatus Al Abraq 3 Dec and a Fieldfare 
Turdus pilaris JPR 28 Nov (Plate 5). One Purple 
Sunbird Cinnyris asiaticus Khiran 12 Nov 
(Plate 6, second record). An Olive-backed 
Pipit Anthus hodgsoni Al Abraq 8 Dec (Plate 
7, eighth record). One Brambling Fringilla 
montifringilla JPR 12 Nov while second record 
European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris there 
29 Nov. A Desert Finch Rhodospiza obsoleta 
Subhan 10 Nov (11th record) and first record 
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes JEO 6 
Nov (Plate 8). Fourth record Rock Bunting 
Emberiza cia Al Abraq 2 Dec (Plate 9). 


LEBANON 

A European Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus 
(fourth record) Mina Tripoli 4 Oct. One 
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus caught 
after a storm near Hermel, north Lebanon, 
22 Nov and later released. Flock of 1000 
Common Woodpigeons Columba palumbus 
10 Nov Ain Lijjeh, Shouf biosphere reserve. 
A few scattered individuals recorded for the 
first time in Beirut around this date. One 
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus 8 Nov Shouf 
BR. Qalaat Niha cliff, Shouf BR, now hosts 
occasional Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria. 

OMAN 

A Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna 
javanica Raysut sewage treatment plant 27 
Nov, then Al Mughsayl 29 Nov-31 Dec at 
least (fifth record). Two more A'Duqm 21-24 
Dec (6th record). Large influx of Greater 
White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons to many 
Gulf countries; seven Khawr Dirif 6 Nov 
and 16 A'Shuweimeiyah that day; up to 35 
Salalah area 11 Nov-6 Dec while two Al 
Atheiba, Muscat, 5 Dec. One Cotton Pygmy 
Goose Nettapus coromandelianus Khawr Dirif 

6 Nov and one Al Ansab wetland 20-25 
Nov (unusual locations, this species normally 
visits Salalah area). Eight Mallards Anas 
platyrhynchos early arrivals Al Ansab wetland 

7 Sep while two Northern Shovelers Anas 
clypeata even earlier there, 6 Jul (numbers 
rose to 200 by 12 Oct and 253 on 25 Dec), 
five Eurasian Teals Anas crecca early arrivals 
there, 17 Aug, rising to 14 on 7 Sep and later 
maximum 257 on 25 Dec. Six Ferruginous 
Ducks Ay thy a nyroca Qurm park 30 Nov and 
four Al Ansab wetland 25 Dec. A Wedge¬ 
tailed Shearwater Puffinus pacificus off Ras 
Janjari 15 Nov while second record of Cory's 
Shearwater Calonectris [diomedea] borealis 
c5km off Muscat 21 Jun. 268 Jouanin's Petrels 
Buliveria fallax off Ras Janjari 15 Nov while 227 
Wilson's Storm Petrels Oceanites oceanicus in 
one hour off Ras Al Khabbah 18 Aug. There 
were a number of records of Swinhoe's Storm 
Petrel Oceanodroma monorhis : six singles in one 
hour off Ras Al Khabbah 17 Aug and five next 
day; six off Ras Abu Rasas, Masirah island, 19 
Aug, two seen during a boat trip 18 Sep and 
one off Masirah 4 Oct. 


120 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 











One Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 
Qurm park 2 Oct, 12 and 21 Nov (seventh 
record, first for 20 years). A Black-necked 
Grebe Podiceps nigricollis A1 Ansab wetland 6 
Jul unusual at this time of year. Eighth record 
African Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus 
still present to 31 Dec. New maximum (167) 
Glossy Ibises Plegadis falcinellus East Khawr 

11 Nov and 6 Dec. One Black Stork Ciconia 
nigra Wadi Darbat 31 Oct and 4 Dec and 
same bird Tawi Atayr 15 Nov. Numbers of 
Abdim's Storks Ciconia abdimii built up from 
November to a new maximum of 610 Raysut 
STP 31 Dec. A Eurasian Bittern Botaurus 
stellaris West Khawr 20 Nov (scarce and 
irregular visitor). An adult male Little Bittern 
Ixobrychus minutus Khawr Taqah 23 Aug 
indicates probable breeding. Yellow Bittern 
Ixobrychus sinensis included four East Khawr 
22 Aug, three Khawr Taqah 26 Aug, three A1 
Baleed archaeological park 27 Aug and four 
A1 Mughsayl 5 Nov (one there 3 Dec). Eleven 
Squacco Herons Ardeola ralloides East Khawr 
28 Jul. Indian Pond Herons Ardeola greyii 
widespread Salalah area 3-6 Dec including 
four West Khawr 6 Dec (singles Qatbit motel 

12 Dec and A'Duqm 23 Dec). At least 100 
Grey Herons Ardea cinerea Nimr wetlands, 
central desert, 18-19 Oct. Sixth record Black¬ 
headed Heron Dawkah farm 14 Nov, another 
reported a few days earlier Khawr Rawri. 
Nine Purple Herons Ardea purpurea Nimr 
wetlands 18-19 Oct. One Intermediate Egret 
Egretta intermedia East Khawr 28 Jul, two A1 
Ansab wetlands 14 and 21 Sep and one there 
25 Dec. This species widespread Salalah area 
3-6 Dec with a new maximum of six Khawr 
Rouri 6 Dec. 75 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta 
Nimr wetland 18-19 Oct with 15 Western 
Reef Herons Egretta gidaris. 

Sixth record Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel 
Hiql, Masirah island, 3 Nov. Brown Boobies 
Sula leucogaster usually more common in the 
south so 12 off Quriyat 17 Sep was a large 
number; one off Muscat 30 Oct. Two Crested 
Honey Buzzards Pernis ptilorhynchus Salalah 
10 Nov and a Black-winged Kite Elanus 
caeruleus Barka 18 Nov. Five Yellow-billed 
Kites Milvus aegyptius Khawr Taqah 7 Nov. 
388 Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus 
A1 Multaqa waste disposal site 22 Nov while 
eight Jaaluni (unusual) 9 Aug. Five Eurasian 
Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus Tawi Atayr 15 


Nov and one Cinereous Vulture Aegypius 
monachus (fourth record) there 25 Nov. Five 
Lappet-faced Vultures Torgos tracheliotus 
there 7 Oct and six 15 Nov. Three Pallid 
Harriers Circus macrourus Sahanawt farm, 
Salalah, 5 Dec. A Steppe Buzzard Buteo b. 
vulpinus Wadi Hinna 25 Dec. One Lesser 
Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina East Khawr 
29 Oct while a fulvescens Greater Spotted 
Eagle Aquila clanga A1 Ansab wetland 30 
Oct. 825 Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensis (new 
maximum) Raysut waste disposal site 14 Nov 
(700 on 5 Dec). Two Lesser Kestrels Falco 
naumanni Tawi Atayr 31 Oct. Seven Amur 
Falcons Falco amurensis Shisr 29 Nov and a 
Sooty Falcon Falco concolor Wadi Sahanawt 
25 Aug. Fifth record Merlin Falco columbarius 
Sahnawt farm, Salalah, 25 Nov and 5 Dec. A 
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo Wave, Muscat, 
22 Nov and another Wadi Darbat 4 Dec. One 
Barbary Falcon Falco ( peregrinus ) pelegrinoides 
Tawi Atayr 25 Dec. 

A Corncrake Crex crex Wadi Shab 20 Oct 
while White-breasted Waterhens Amauromis 
phoenicurus Raysut STP 1 Nov, Montasar 26 
Nov and Khawr Rouri 6 Dec. Sixth record 
of Watercock Gallicrex cinerea A1 Mughsayl 5 
Nov while the longstaying Purple Swamphen 
Porphyrio porphyrio seen various dates A1 
Ansab wetland to 31 Dec. Two Red-knobbed 
Coots Fulica cristata Khor Rouri 3 Oct and 
three there 4-6 Dec perhaps indicating that 
this species is spreading along the coast. A 
Demoiselle Crane A1 Mughsayl 31 Dec. Three 
Spotted Thick-knees Burhinus capensis A1 
Baleed archaeological park 27 Aug. A Spur¬ 
winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus Raysut 
STP 5 Dec-at least 31 Dec while 65 Sociable 
Lapwings Vanellus gregarius Sahanawt farm 
16 Nov (32 there 17 Dec). Seven White-tailed 
Lapwings Vanellus leucurus A1 Ansab wetland 
3 Dec. Two Lesser Sand Plovers Gharadrius 
atrifrons Dawkah farm 21 Aug (unusual at an 
inland location). A Caspian Plover Gharadrius 
asiaticus East Khawr 24 Aug, three there 26 
Aug and four on 28 Aug. Nine Pheasant¬ 
tailed Jacanas Hydrophasianus chirurgus 
Khawr Rouri 3-6 Dec, a high number. Third 
record Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola 
Duqm 1 Jan. A Jack Snipe Eymnocnyptes 
minimus A1 Ansab wetland 30 Oct. One Great 
Snipe Gallinago media Sur STP 24 Nov. 13th 
record Long-billed Dowitcher Eimnodromus 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 121 


scolopaceus Khawr Rawri 18 Nov and 4 Dec. 
A Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus East 
Khawr 6 Dec. 50 Terek Sandpipers Xenus 
cinereus Khawr Jarama 10 Nov. One Great 
Knot Calidris tennirostris East Khawr 25 Aug 
and 84 at the more usual location of Barr al 
Hikman (Filim) 25 Nov. A Long-toed Stint 
Calidris subminuta East Khawr 3, 12 and 14 
Nov and one Khawr Rouri 6 Dec (unclear 
whether same bird). A Pectoral Sandpiper 
Calidris melanotus East Khawr 31 Oct and 15 
Nov. 1024 Ruffs Philomachus pugnax East 
Khawr 12 Nov (new maximum), 1000 there 
5-6 Dec. 

One Brown Noddy Anous stolidus Mirbat 
30 Jul, one off Muscat 30 Oct, seven off 
Mirbat 3 Nov. An adult White-eyed Gull 
Larus leucophthalmus photo'd Ras Al Hadd 
15 Aug (14th record). Ninth record Black 
Tern Chlidonias niger (Icy) East Khawr 5 Oct 
subsequently Raysut STP various dates 24 
Oct-31 Dec. Single Rufous Turtle Doves 
Streptopelia ( orientalis ) meena Dawkah farm 
21 Aug and Sahanawt farm various dates 
14 Nov-17 Dec. 24 Namaqua Doves Oena 
capensis Saham STP 29 Dec, unusually high 
number. A Bruce's Green Pigeon Treron 
waalia Qatbit 21 Aug (unusual record for this 
site, c200 km north of usual feeding/breeding 
area). One juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoo 
Clamator glandarius (3rd record) Khawr Taqah 
7 Nov. Pied Cuckoos Oxylophus jacobinus: two 
Khawr Rouri 30 Oct, one Dawqah farm 30 
Oct, one Ayn Hamran 2 Nov, one Sahanawt 
farm 5 Nov, two Ayn Hamran 13 Nov and one 
Shisr 29 Nov. Two Asian Koels Eudynamys 
scolopaceus Al Balid farm 25 Nov and one 
Qatbit 30-31 Oct (now regular winter, in very 
small numbers, central desert). A Short-eared 
Owl Asio flammeus Al Balid farm 29 Nov. 
European Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus 
seen during pelagic boat trips off Muscat 18 
Sep (two) and 30 Oct (one). An Alpine Swift 
Tachymarptis melba Masirah waste disposal 
site 5 Aug, one Ayn Hamran 7 Oct and three 
there 5 Dec. Eight Forbes-Watson Swifts 
Apus berliozi Ayn Hamran 5 Dec with smaller 
numbers at four other sites in area 3-6 Dec. 
A Little Swift Apus affinis Wadi Darbat 12 
Nov and Ayn Hamran 5 Dec. Eight European 
Rollers Coracias garrulus Qatbit 11 Oct while 
two late Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters Merops 
persicus West Khawr 6 Dec. An early Eurasian 


Hoopoe Upupa epops Qatbit 24 Jul while 15 
Saham STP 29 Nov and ten Ayn Hamran 3 
Dec. Two Eurasian Wrynecks Jynx torquilla, 
also late-stayers, Ayn Hamran 3 and 5 Dec. 

22 Daurian Shrikes Lanius isabellinus Al 
Mughsayl 17 Nov (high count). One Bay- 
backed Shrike Lanius vittatus near East 
Khawr 15 Nov and a Steppe Grey Shrike 
Lanius ( meridionalis) pallidirostris Masirah 
island 4 Oct. A Masked Shrike Lanius 
nubicus Ayn Hamran 26 Nov. First record 
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus Qatbit 
25-26 Nov. 120 Brown-necked Ravens 
Corvus ruficollis Jaaluni 26 Aug while 14 
Hypocoliuses Hypocolius ampelinus Muddayy 
13 and 22 Nov. 500 Greater Short-toed Larks 
Calandrella brachydactyla Jarziz farm 12 Nov 
while an Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgida 
Al Ghaftayn 27 Nov (first record for central 
desert). 12 White-eared Bulbuls Pycnonotus 
(leucogenys) leucotis Quriyat 17 Aug, again 
confirming spread of this species. A Cetti's 
Warbler Cettia cetti singing East Khawr 5 
Oct (third record). A Great Reed Warbler 
Acrocephalus arundinaceus Al Mughsayl 6 Oct 
while a Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinioides 
(rare visitor) Al Mughsayl 31 Dec. Two Wood 
Warblers Phylloscopus sibilatrix Masirah island 
5-7 Oct, two Wadi Darbat 26 Oct and one 
Ayn Hamran 3 Dec. Five Green Warblers 
Phylloscopus nitidus Masirah island 5-7 Oct 
while three Plain Leaf Warblers Phylloscopus 
neglectus Ras A'Sawadi 30 Oct (unusual out 
of Mussandam although they seem to be 
becoming more regular away from this area). 
Two Yellow-browed Warblers Phylloscopus 
inornatus Montasar 26 Nov and one Qatbit 
30 Nov. 

Two Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris 
Raysut STP 3 Dec while a Black-throated 
Thrush Turdus atrogularis Jarziz farm 1 Dec. A 
Thrush Nightingale Luscinia luscinia Dawkah 
farm 29 Aug and another Ayn Jarziz 8 Oct. One 
female White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis 
Qatbit 24 Jul (second July sighting). Two Blue 
Rock Thrushes Monticola solitarius Al Ansab 
wetland 25 Dec. A Semi-collared Flycatcher 
Picedula semitorquata Al Ghaftayn 27 Nov 
while the sixth record of Taiga Flycatcher 
Picedula albicilla Ayn Tobruq 24 Nov, seventh 
record Qatbit 12 Dec. A Nile Valley Sunbird 
Anthodiaeta metallica Qatbit 14-15 Nov. 30 
House Sparrows Passer domesticus Salalah 27 


122 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 


Aug confirming spread of this species in the 
area. Flocks of Yellow-throated Sparrows 
Gymnoris xanthocollis : 80 and then 50 Wave, 
Muscat, 9 Aug and 500 Quriyat 17 Aug. 11 Red 
Avadavats Amandava amandava 20 Dec near 
Salalah bird sanctuary. One Eastern Yellow 
Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis taivan Khawr 
Rouri 11 Nov and a Masked Wagtail Motacilla 
(alba) personata Salalah bird sanctuary 14 
Nov. 28 Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeaks 
Rhynchostruthus percivali Ayn Hamran, a new 
maximum. 

SAUDI ARABIA 

A juvenile Greater White-fronted 
Goose Anser albifrons Jubail 7 Nov and 23 
Ferruginous Ducks Ay thy a nyroca Dhahran 
Hills percolation pond 14 Sep (Plate 10), 16 
staying into November. A Eurasian Bittern 
Botaurus stellaris Wadi Rabigh 21 Nov and 166 
(high count) Western Great Egrets Ardea alba 
Sabkhat A1 Fasl 14 Nov. One and probably 
two juvenile Crested Honey Buzzards Pernis 
ptilorhynchus Dhahran camp 27-28 Oct. One 
sub-adult fulvescens Greater Spotted Eagle 
Acjiiila clanga SAF 31 Oct with a different bird 
there 21-28 Nov. Two Cinereous Vultures 
Aegypius monachus Wadi Rabigh 14 Nov. 
Two Purple Swamphens Porphyrio porphyrio 
Dhahran Hills pond 13-14 Dec, a site 95 km 
south of nearest known location with one 
finally identified as African Swamphen P. 
madagascariensis (second record, bird probably 
originating from Qatar breeding population). 
Flock of 135 Northern Lapwings Vanellus 
vanellus near Riyadh 15 Nov and an adult 



Plate 10. Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca 10 September 
2014, Dhahran Hills percolation pond, Dhahran, Eastern 
province, Saudi Arabia. © J Babbington 


White-tailed Lapwing Vanellus leucurus 

Dhahran Hills PP 9-21 Aug. One Black¬ 
winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni KAUST 
golf course 1 Oct-14 Nov at least. 

A Pharaoh Eagle Owl Bubo ascalaphus 
A1 Hayer, near Riyadh, 15 Nov (unusual 
site). The highest single count of Egyptian 
Nightjars Caprimulgus aegyptius was 13 SAF 
22 Aug with more than 10 staying to mid 
Sep. One Dhahran 21 Nov. A White-throated 
Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis Buraidah 26-28 
Oct at least with another SAF 28 Nov and a 
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis A1 Hayer, near 
Riyadh, 7-22 Nov. Two Arabian Magpies Pica 
(pica) asirensis Sallal A1 Dahna 11 Dec. A late 
Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinioides trapped/ 
ringed SAF 24 Oct. Six 'Mangrove' White-eyes 
Zosterops labyssinicus Either mangroves, Jizan 
province 8 Oct. A Finsch's Wheatear Oenanthe 
finschii Jabal Nayriyyah 21 Nov and one 
Qaryat A1 Ulya pivot fields same day. Flock of 
740 Streaked Weavers Ploceus manyar feeding 
in fields near Riyadh 25 Oct. 12 Arabian 
Golden-winged Grosbeaks Rhynchostruthus 
percivali between Taif and A1 Baha 15 Nov 
with this area the only known regular location 
for this regional endemic in the country. Eight 
Trumpeter Finches Bucanetes githagineus Al 
Hayer dam area 21 Nov. 

TURKEY 

A Goosander Mergus merganser Igneada 29 
Nov. An oiled Red-throated Diver Gavia 
stellata picked up istanbul, Karaburun, 9 Dec 
but died following week. Another individual 
Samandag, Hatay, 14 Dec (first record for 
province). Same area produced a Scopoli's 
Shearwater Calonectris diomedea 14 Dec, one 
of the few winter sightings. Boat trip off 
Didim, Aydm, produced two European 
Storm Petrels Hydrobates pelagicus 6 Oct. 
Several Red-necked Grebes Podiceps grisegena 
northern half of the country: one Igneada 
31 Oct, two Uluabat Golii 8 Nov and one 
between Rumelifeneri and Kilyos, Istanbul, 14 
Dec. One Black-winged Kite Elanus caendeus 
Milleyha, Hatay, 29 Oct, three flying off the 
sea there 8 Nov, one §anliurfa 22 Jul and one 
Diyarbakir 14 Nov. First wintering record 
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes Hatay 
11 Dec. One Saker Falcon Falco cherrug present 
during breeding season central Anatolia. Two 
on passage Amanos mountains, Hatay, 29 


Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 123 







Plate II. Lapland Longspur Calcarius lapponicus 3 
November 2014, Kizilirmak delta, Bafra, Samsun, 
Turkey. © N Yavuz 


Sep and one mountains near Abant, Bolu, 
13 Oct. Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax is almost 
extinct as a breeding bird but regularly seen 
Black sea coast late autumn and early winter: 
singles Arsin, Trabzon, 24 Nov, Trabzon 4 
Dec, Kastamonu 24 Nov and group of three 
Of, Trabzon, 8 Dec. Flock of 259 Demoiselle 
Cranes Anthropoides virgo lake Kulu maximum 
count for year. A Pacific Golden Plover 
Pluvialis fulva Enez lagoons 13 Sep. One 
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus (regular but 
rare wader) lake Kulu 2 Sep with a Pectoral 
Sandpiper Calidris melanotos. A Black-winged 
Pratincole Glareola nordmanni near Mu§ 21 
Sep. Second record Glaucous Gull Larus 
hyperboreus, a first winter bird, photo'd Rize 
12 Dec and stayed until end of month at 
least (first record 140 years previously). A 
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus seen 
during the boat trip off Didim 6 Oct. 

A Namaqua Dove Oena capensis arrived 
off the sea Milleyha, Hatay, 8 Nov while 
another 25 km northeast of Kulu 16 Jul. Both 
were considered to be wild. One Daurian 
Shrike Lanins isabellinus Birecik 28 Oct. Two 
Pallas's Leaf Warblers Phylloscopus proregulus 
photo'd Kizilirmak delta (one 29 Oct, one 
5 Nov). One Yellow-browed Warbler 
Phylloscopus inornatus Suba§i, Antakya, 26 
Oct, two Kizilirmak delta 18 Oct and one there 
28 Oct. A Blyth's Reed Warbler Acrocephalus 
dumetorum caught Aras ringing station, Kars, 
27 Aug. Passage of Booted Warblers Iduna 
caligata: one singing Halfeti 31 May while 
singles Rize 28 Aug and Antakya 18 Sep. An 
Asian Desert Warbler Sylvia nana Istanbul, 


Karaburun, 29 Oct. A Variable Wheatear 

Oenanthe picata claimed from locality near 
Van province summer 2014 but no further 
details available. Ringing station Kizilirmak 
delta produced a Black-throated Accentor 
Prunella atrogularis, caught/photo'd 31 Oct 
and new sp for Turkey. Milleyha coastland, 
Hatay, produced three Richard's Pipits 
Anthus richardi 29 Oct and single Buff-bellied 
Pipits Anthus ( rubescens) japonicus 29 Oct and 
22 Nov. A Pine Bunting Emberiza leu.cocepha.los 
Aras ringing station 25 Oct and third Lapland 
Longspur Calcarius lapponicus Kizilirmak 
delta 3 Nov (Plate 11). 

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES 

Two Greater White-fronted Geese Anser 
albifrons Mirfa 14 Nov and one Ruwais and one 
flying along the shore A1 Aqqah 28 Nov. Pelagic 
boat trip highlights from Kalba: a Cory's/ 
Scopoli's Shearwater Calonectris [ diomedea] 
borealis/C. diomedea (precise identification not 
possible) 13 Sep, seventh record Wedge-tailed 
Shearwater Puffinus pacificus 19 Jul, eighth 
record Swinhoe's Petrel 16 Sep, and 30 Flesh¬ 
footed Shearwaters Puffinus carneipes and 300 
Jouanin's Petrels Bulweria fallax 19 Sep. One 
Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris A1 Ain 30 
Oct remained into Nov. First Crested Honey- 
Buzzard Perhis ptilorhynchus of autumn was 
back on Abu Dhabi island from mid Oct 
although, unusually, this species remained 
otherwise absent until several late December 
reports. An unseasonal Black-winged Kite 
Elanus caeruleus Dubai pivot fields 15 Sep 
(17th record) and one Hamraniyah 17 Sep and 
3 Dec. Equally unseasonal Black-eared Kite 
Milvus ( migrans) govinda Dubai pivot fields 30 
Aug (previous records, of lineatus , much later 
in autumn-spring). A Shikra Accipter badius 
A1 Ain 8 Oct. One Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus 
Wamm farms 7 Nov (Plate 12) with one WF 
28 Nov and a further bird, an adult male, 6 
Dec. A Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis A1 Ain 
11 Oct while two Eastern Imperial Eagles 
Aquila heliaca Zakher lake 14 Nov. An Amur 
Falcon Falco amurensis Emirates Palace hotel, 
Abu Dhabi, 1 Dec and a male Merlin Falco 
columbarius Khawr al Beida 7 Nov. 

One Water Rail Rallus aquations Al Ain 16 
Oct-at least year end. A Corncrake Crex crex 
Sila 26 Sep and a White-breasted Waterhen 
Amaurornis phoenicurus Al Dhait south 22 


124 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 









Plate I 2. Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus 7 November 2014, 
Wamm farms, UAE. © S Lloyd 


Plate 14. Pied Stonechat Saxicola caprata 29 November 
2014, 1st winter female, Abu Dhabi, UAE. © S Lloyd 



Plate 13. Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus 7 
November 2014, Wamm farms, UAE. © S Lloyd 


Nov. A Spotted Crake Porzana porzana Abu 
Dhabi for several days from 22 Sep. The 
UAE's first Watercock Gallicrex cinerea found 
exhausted Dubai 5 Nov was released next day 
Warsan. A Eurasian Stone-Curlew Burhinus 
oedicnemus chick Abu al Abyad 9 Jul, second 
UAE breeding record. A Northern Lapwing 
Vanellus vanellus WF 21 Nov and the winter's 
first Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius 
Hamraniyah 21 Nov. One Caspian Plover 
Charadrius asiaticus 7 Nov Hamraniyah. A 
Mediterranean Gull Lams melanocephalus 
Mafraq 26 Dec (back for fourth successive 
winter). Six Brown Noddies Anous stolidus 


(scarce this year) seen during boat trip 20 
Sep and eighth record Lesser Noddy Anous 
tenuirostris during boat trip off Kalba 19 Jul. 
Single Sooty Terns Onychoprion fuscatus 
recorded on trips 4 and 19 Jul with other 
singles seen from shore 8 Jul (Bidiya) and 
14 Jul (Fujairah). One Roseate Tern Sterna 
dougallii Fujairah 19-30 Jul (eighth record) 
and one there 12 Sep (ninth record). 16th 
record Black Tern Chlidonias niger there 12 
Sep. Single Long-tailed Skuas Stercorarius 
longicaudus during pelagic boat trips off Kalba 
4 and 19 Jul with other singles seen from 
shore 8 Jul (Bidiya) and 14 Jul (Fujairah). 
Short-eared Owls Asio flammeus Abu Dhabi 
racecourse 8 Nov and Jebel Dhanna 28 Nov. 
A Pacific Swift Apus pacificus sensu lato (third 
record) WF 12 Sep. 

A Drongo Dicrurus sp Palm Jumeriah 11 
Jul. Possibly same individual Zabeel, Dubai, 
31 Oct. Sixth record Black Drongo Dicrurus 
macrocercus WF 7 Nov (Plate 13) while an 
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus Icucophaeus Wadi Bih 
4 Dec (eighth record). Two Fan-tailed Ravens 
Corvus rhipidurus seen from main highway 
through Al Rahba, near Abu Dhabi, 13 Dec 
(2nd record). Three Hypocoliuses Hypocolius 
ampclinus WF 21 Nov. WF produced Savi's 
Warbler Locustella luscinioidcs and a very 
early Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus 
melanopogon (17th record) within minutes of 
each other 19 Sep. First Hume's Warbler 


Sandgrousc 37 (2015) 125 










Phylloscopus humei of the winter found 
Emirates Palace hotel 19 Dec with another 
Mirfa the same day. 12th record Green 
Warbler Phylloscopus nitidus (first since 2007) 
Mamzar park 11 Oct with another there 25 
Oct. Arabia's first Large-billed Leaf-warbler 
Phylloscopus magnirostris Mamzar park 11 
and 12 Oct. A large arrival of warblers there 
26 Oct included a Garden Warbler Sylvia 
borin (unusual autumn). At least two Thrush 
Nightingales Luscinia luscinia Sila'a and 
Abu Dhabi 26-27 Sep and a Ring Ouzel 
Turdus torquatus Jebel Dhanna 26 Dec. First 
European Robin Erithacus rubecula of the 
winter. Emirates Palace hotel 19 Dec. One 
Pied Stonechat Saxicola caprata Abu Dhabi 29 
Nov (Plate 14) remained until at least year- 
end. A Forest Wagtail Dendroanthus indicus 
Safa 31 Oct. Dubai's first Eastern Mourning 
Wheatear Oenanthe lugens 1 Dec and another 
A1 Ain 16 Dec. First Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus 
(rubescens) japonicus of the winter Hamraniyah 

21 Nov, numbers rising there to maximum six 

22 Dec. Another Emirates Palace hotel 13 Dec 
and two WF 26 Dec onwards. A Brambling 
Fringilla montifringilla Delma island 20 Dec. 

UZBEKISTAN 

On 20 May a large breeding colony Greater 
Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus (2594 nests 
with eggs, c6000-7000 adults) southern Aral 
sea region in eastern section Sudochie lake 
(IBA UZ002), first reliable breeding record 
Uzbekistan. First winter record Little Egret 
Egretta garzetta 12 Jan Tuyabuguz reservoir 
(IBA 032), Tashkent region. Two Sociable 
Lapwings Vanellus gregarius 29 Sep 2013 
Talimardjan reservoir (IBA UZ023) and 
migrating flocks of up to 400 there mid Sep 
2012 but since then water level significantly 
higher. 

A Curlew Numenius sp found by UzSPB 
field group western end Aydar-Arnasay 
lake system 28 Sep 2013 accidentally shot 
by hunters. Bird weighed less and was 
much smaller (particularly bill length) than 
minimal size of Slender-billed Curlew 
Numenius tenuirostris. Individuals and groups 
of three to five such birds, different from 
Whimbrel N. phaeopus in flight, size and 
colour, regularly occur here spring/autumn 
migration with Eurasian Curlews N.arquata. 
Possibly new Whimbrel ssp but further 



Plate 15. Nest of Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola 
Syrdar/a river, Tashkent region, Uzbekistan. © A. 
Atakhodjaev 


research needed. 22 nests Collared Pratincole 
Glareola pratincola Syrdarya river, Dalverzin 
hunting farm (IBA UZ036), Tashkent region, 
13 May (Plate 15). Clutch sizes two-four 
eggs. 50 Collared Pratincoles there 9 Jun 2012 
suspected to be breeding. A White-capped 
Water-redstart Chaimarrornis leucocephalus 23 
Oct 2013 Amankutansay river 27 km south 
of Samarkand city, 1020 m asl (first reliably 
confirmed occurrence Zarafshan mountain 
range, Uzbekistan). 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

Azerbeijan: Tomas Axen Haraldsson; Bahrain: 
Abdulla A1 Kaabi; Cyprus: Colin Richardson; 
Egypt: Istvan Moldova; Georgia: Batumi 
Raptor Count, Denise & Chris Lamsdell; Iraq: 
Muhammad Saddik Barzani; Israel: Yoav 
Perlman; Kazakhstan: www.birds.kz, Ruslan 
Urazaliyev; Kuwait: AbdulRahman A1 Sirhan, 
Mike Pope; Lebanon: Ghassan Ramadan- 
Jaradi; Oman: Jens Eriksen (www.birdsoman. 
com); Saudi Arabia: Jem Babbington (www. 
birdsofsaudiarabia.com), Philip Roberts; 
Turkey: Kerem Ali Boyla; United Arab 
Emirates: Oscar Campbell, Tommy Pedersen 
(www.uaebirding.com/uae_news.html); 
Uzbekistan: Roman Kashkarov. 

Ian Harrison, Llyswen Farm, Lon y Felin, Aberaeron, 
SA46 0ED, UK. ianbirds@gmail.com 

Chris Lamsdell, 4 Hardings Close, Iver, Bucks SL0 
0HL, UK. clamsdell@gmail.com 


126 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 














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An awesome place for birds and birdwatchers. 



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OSME c/oThe Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire SGI 9 2DL, UK To join OSME visit www.osme.org 

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Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 127 










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128 Sandgrouse 37 (2015) 










































Editor 

Dr Peter Cowan, Department of Biological Sciences and Chemistry, 

University of Nizwa, Sultanate of Oman • sandgrouse@osme.org 

Editorial Advisers Vasil Ananian, Paul Goriup, Mike Jennings, Dr Fares Khoury, Guy Kirwan, 

Dr Mike McGrady, Dr Stephen Newton, Arend Wassink 

Photographic Editor Paul Doherty 

Identification Consultants Arnoud van den Berg, Chris Bradshaw, Andrew Lassey, Richard Porter 

ADVICE FOR AUTHORS 

The Editor will consider for publication papers and notes on the birds of the OSME region. 'Russia' on the 
OSME region map refers to the Russian Federation's North Caucasus (to 45°N). Papers which additionally 
include birds in areas outside the OSME region or which are concerned with the birds of areas of 
which the OSME region, partially or completely, is an important part eg the Saharo-Sindian region or 
Siberian-African flyways, will also be considered. The Editor will give careful thought to the publication 
of mss concerning the birds of the following countries/areas close to the OSME region: eastern half of 
Libya, arid/semiarid Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, 'Republic of Somaliland', 'Puntland State of Somalia', 
Kashmir, Tibet, Sinkiang and western half of Mongolia. Please consult the Editor if in doubt about the 
i suitability of material. 

All correspondence between authors and Editor, including initial submission of mss, will be by email. 
All mss must be in UK English and use Word. Consult recent issues of Sandgrouse for style conventions 
but apply minimal text formatting eg no rules, small caps or text boxes. All figure, table and plate captions 
should be in the text file at the end of the ms. Tables can be placed at the end of the Word document or 
be attached separately. All diagrams, maps, graphs and photos must be attached as individual files in a 
popular format. The Editor encourages the submission of maps and colour photos. All mss for publication 
are sent for review. Avian scientific nomenclature and species sequence should follow the Simplified 
OSME Region List, www.osme.org, unless argued convincingly otherwise. 



ISSN 0260-4736 


OSME region map design 
by Ian Fisher and 
colleagues at the RSPB 

Typesetting & layout 
by Eng-Li Green 
engli@sufficio.org 

Printed by 
Swallowtail Print 
of Norwich, UK 
sales@swallowtailprint.co.uk 


£5 

FSC 

www.fsc.org 


MIX 

Paper from 
responsible sources 

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